A Bronx man caught on surveillance video allegedly scamming a senior woman in Oceanside out of $45,000 was in custody Thursday — thanks to the public's help — and police believe he may be responsible for more similar scams.
Frederik Regalado, 23, is charged with four counts of third-degree grand larceny in connection with the Oceanside case as well as a similar one in Lake Success, police said. He is under investigation for his potential role in three other cases involving victims in Roslyn, Great Neck and Oceanside, as well as two in Farmingdale, that bilked residents out of nearly $65,000.
“I’m happy he’s caught,” the 81-year-old Oceanside woman whose electronic doorbell caught the Dec. 3 scam on video said Thursday, declining to give her name. “I’m happy that I could help and that he’s caught.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder previously implored the public to reach out to police with information about the then-unknown suspect. They doubled the usual reward to $10,000 and called him a "dirtbag" and a "piece of garbage" at a news conference on Dec. 7.
Tips flooded in, helping police discover Regalado's identity and lead them to his Ford Fusion in the Bronx, as well as tie him to a similar scam in Lake Success. Regalado had fled to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he was arrested Tuesday afternoon. He will be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Hempstead.
“Our wonderful police department got the dirtbag,” Curran said Thursday at a news conference.
Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Regalado's arrest meant “Christmas came early” for the department. He added that Regalado has been called lots of names but “now we get to call him defendant.”
“It shows you how easy it is to scam someone,” Ryder said after the news conference. “Why would you rob a bank?”
In Oceanside, Regalado allegedly called the woman and said her son had been arrested after a car crash and needed $7,500 for bail. He came back to her twice more, claiming first that the bail had been doubled after a pregnant woman in the crash lost the baby and then that $30,000 was needed in medical expenses.
"He smiles when he's getting handed that money," Ryder said.
In the Lake Success case, Regalado allegedly bilked a senior woman out of $12,500 in September. He has admitted to the Lake Success and Oceanside scams, Ryder said.
Police earlier said they believe Regalado scammed a Roslyn senior out of $30,000, a Great Neck senior out of more than $5,900, another Oceanside senior out of $8,430, a Farmingdale senior out of $20,000 and tried but failed to take $9,000 from another Farmingdale senior, police said. He has not been charged in those cases but police are working to determine whether Regalado was responsible.
Ryder said these types of investigations are difficult to close and it's rare to arrest a perpetrator. Authorities urged other potential victims of other scammers to come forward.
"These cases are quite difficult," said Albert Teichman, Nassau's chief assistant district attorney.
Anyone with information can call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 800-244-8477. All callers will remain anonymous.
Correction: A previous version of this story gave a wrong name for Frederik Regalado due to incorrect information from police.