A Central Islip man ran a scam renting a bank-owned home to several people and would have collected $3,300 from three victims had he not been arrested Wednesday, Suffolk police said.
Joseph Carretto, 39, of 445 Irving St., is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on second-degree scheme to defraud and three counts of petty larceny.
Carretto, who also went by the name Tony Feletti, took cash deposits from people who answered his ads on Craigslist, wrote rental agreements for a Central Islip house on Hickory Street and gave the victims keys, all since Sunday, police said.
“He would actually give them a tour of the house,” said Lt. Matthew O’Malley, head of the Third Precinct crime section.
But the house had been foreclosed upon and was owned by a bank, so investigators suspect Carretto used a common tactic in such rental scams.
“What we think happened here is . . . he broke in at some point and changed the lock himself, which then obviously gives validity to the whole thing when you’re handing somebody a key that works for the door,” O’Malley said.
He said crime section officers began investigating after two victims bumped into each other Wednesday night at the house and said, “Hey, what are you doing here?”
One victim was scheduled to meet Carretto later Wednesday night at a doughnut shop to hand over the other half of the deposit, $500, but instead, police were there to meet him, O’Malley said.
Officers seized a notebook with addresses and phone numbers inside and investigators are looking into whether those properties were part of the scam, the lieutenant said. Police said they learned a third victim was due to hand over $1,800 to Carretto. Two of the victims identified him in a photo spread.
“We think that there’s probably more properties out there as well as more victims,” he said.
Carretto also was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a gravity knife.
Police said anyone with information may contact them at 631-854-8329.