Man accused of scamming elderly women in Gulfport

Police believe more victims may come forward

Theresa Drouin thought he looked like an honest young man.

The 85-year-old was sitting in her chair by the window when she saw a man approach her Gulfport house and offer to pressure wash the outside of her house. 

"He said, 'I would appreciate if I can get the job only for $40, and that will help me,'" Drouin remembers.

Drouin is a woman of faith. When she saw a cross similar to hers hanging from the neck of 28-year old David Ryals, she gave him $30 to get gas for his pressure washer. But Ryals never came back.

"I felt bad,” she said. “But I asked God, 'I give him $30, can you do something with it?’”

Unfortunately for Ryals, he had gladly left his name and phone number with Drouin. Not long after, he was arrested by Gulfport Police Department, which said Drouin was his fourth and latest victim targeting elderly women.

"He uses various techniques and tactics.  It's not just one particular theme of pressure-washing a house for example.  He uses tree work, paving work, various aspects of it to do it," said Sgt. Tom Woodman with Gulfport Police.

Police said Ryals also burglarized a home he had solicited for a tree-trimming job. They also believe there may be more victims that have yet to come forward and warn against letting your guard down.

"I would be very, very cautious of anybody approaching my house wanting to do work,” Woodman said. “That's not a legitimate business in most cases.”

Drouin has the same advice for others that she always preached to her family.

"I ask people never, never give a penny.  Always told my children and I'm the one who did it.  How stupid can I be?  So I had to learn my lesson," Drouin said.

Ryals has been charged with multiple counts of scheming to defraud and burglary. 

If you have any information, or think you may have been a victim, call Detective Hanh Pham with Gulfport Police at 727-893-1654. 

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