A 28-year-old Toms River man befriended a legally-blind senior citizen and then scammed her out of more than $100,000, prosecutors said Friday, as the suspect pleaded guilty to charges of theft by deception and criminal coercion.
Tyler Dietlmeier, 28, of Toms River, became the focus of an investigation after township police were called to the home of a 73-year-old legally blind woman’s home January 27, 2020 to investigate potential fraudulent activity.
According to prosecutors, an investigation by police detectives found that Dietlmeier had befriended, under false pretenses, the woman, who lived by herself. The investigation revealed that beginning in Oct. 2019, Dietlmeier opened numerous credit card accounts in the victim’s name without her permission, added his name as an authorized user to her existing accounts, increased the credit limits on existing accounts, and changed the phone numbers on some of her accounts so that any fraud alerts from the credit card companies would go directly to him. Dietlmeier also rented cars using her information, and accessed her bank accounts.
In most cases, authorities said, Dietlmeier used the victim’s credit cards to buy gift cards which he then sold for cash. In total, the defendant fraudulently obtained in excess of $100,000 through the scheme.
Additionally, according to prosecutors, when the victim questioned Dietlmeier about the possibility that he had defrauded her, he threatened to harm her and her family if she reported her concerns to law enforcement.
As a result of the investigation, a warrant was issued for Dietlmeier’s arrest on Jan. 29, 2020. On Feb. 6, 2020, Dietlmeier was arrested by members of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Warrant Division in Plainsboro, New Jersey. He was transported to and processed at Toms River Police headquarters, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.
Following his guilty plea Friday, the state will be seeking a term of seven years New Jersey State Prison on the theft charge and four years on the coercion charge, to run concurrently.
“To stoop so low as to take advantage of an elderly person, who also happens to live alone and is legally blind, is about as reprehensible as it gets,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said. “Let the message be sent that we will not tolerate con artists who prey upon and victimize our seniors and the disabled. We will continue to be vigilant investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against the most vulnerable in our community who, because of their age or disability, simply cannot fight for themselves.”