Police in South Jersey are warning residents to be wary of a suspected scam artist who portrays himself as an appliance repairman.

Matthew K. Lyall, also known as Kai Thompson, 38, of Ventnor City, faces charges in municipalities stretching from Little Egg Harbor to Ocean City including theft and forgery for running a bogus business.

Northfield Police Det. Guy DiMarco said a resident reported an issue with a company called Southshore Appliance Repair to the department one month ago. The resident said he had found the company through an internet search and that it claimed to be based out of Ventnor City.

The resident, a 92-year-old man, reported an issue with his dishwasher being excessively noisy. The repairman, later identified as Lyall, said he would replace the appliance with a refurbished one and provide a warranty for all kitchen appliances for $1,200. The resident reportedly provided a check to Lyall for $12, and when he was informed of the error offered to provide a replacement check for the correct amount.

Rather than destroy the original check, DiMarco said Lyall deposited the replacement check via his cell phone, and also altered the original check to reflect the correct amount. After several unanswered calls the resident then contacted the Better Business Bureau as well as local law enforcement.

DiMarco said thanks to a law enforcement information sharing network, he was able to identify a similar case out of Egg Harbor Township that also included a picture identifying Lyall. The detective said that because Lyall had deposited the checks remotely into a New York bank, there was no record of him having gone into the bank to handle the transactions.

Officers in Egg Harbor also confirmed a similar case in Ocean City.

Lyall was arrested at the end of December after a traffic stop and was turned over to the Northfield Police Department. DiMarco said he was processed and released on his own recognizance before being transferred to the Ocean City Police Department.

After being released on bail in Ocean City, Lyall reportedly went to work under the company name of My Repairs NJ, based out of Atlantic City, though DiMarco said there is no address for the company. Since changing names, DiMarco said Lyall has continued to target residents in the town, including one woman for whom he said he would install a new appliance in exchange for $725. The woman paid the money and purchased the new appliance but did not hear from Lyall again in order to complete the installation.

DiMarco said Lyall is facing several charges including theft, criminal simulation and theft by deception.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the department at 609-641-2832 ext. 119. More information can also be found on the Department's Facebook page.

 

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