EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An East Providence man is facing charges after admitting to scamming a group of friends out of $58,000 for a fake trip to Aruba, according to police.
Anthony DeBarros was arrested Saturday and charged with obtaining money under false pretenses and unlawful appropriation.
According Det. Lt. Raymond Blinn, DeBarros collected $1,000 from 58 people and promised to book a vacation but kept the money for himself.
“Detectives spoke with [DeBarros] and during the interview, he basically told them he had had some financial issues and was using the money to pay off bills and that he had never booked the vacation for anybody,” Blinn explained.
East Providence Police were tipped off to the crime last week by DeBarros’ alleged victims.
“As time got closer to the trip, they got no itinerary, they had trouble reaching Mr. DeBarros,” Blinn said. “When they did reach him, he had very confusing stories for them but no answers.”
Blinn said the group was expecting to board a bus to New York City Sunday evening and then fly to Aruba. The bus never showed up, confirming the trip was a scam.
“He knew a lot of them and he set up some key people who organized this event,” Blinn said. “There was no legitimate travel agency involved and he ended up getting the money over the last few months.”
“[DeBarros] says there may be just a little bit left,” he added.
Police say they are also investigating whether DeBarros was involved in a home repair scam.
“Right now we’re at 58 people that have been scammed,” Blinn said. “It’s probably going to get much higher than that.”
East Providence Police are asking people who believe they may be a victim of DeBarros to contact the detectives at (401) 435-7600.
An Eyewitness News crew went to DeBarros’ home for comment but was asked to leave.