Police investigating suspicious sandbag sales in the Socastee area

After social media posts began circulating this week, law enforcement started investigating reports of a person selling sandbags that were obtained under “suspicious circumstances.”

The person, who is connected with Eli Towing and Recovery, may be selling sandbags in the Socastee area, authorities said.

Rob Tingman, a Socastee native, said he confronted the man allegedly selling sandbags that were given to him for free. Tingman made a Facebook live video Tuesday night that has had more than 26,000 views. Tingman explained the individual got the sandbags for free, which were placed at St. James High School for flooding victims to pick up, and started selling the bags for $6.

“He admitted to it on the recording,” Tingman said of the audio he recorded during the phone call with the individual. “My intention was not for a viral video, it was for a buyer-beware video. I’m just pointing out the fact that … our community is hurting and he’s taking advantage of him.”

In the phone call, Tingman said, “You’re all over Facebook, people calling you a scammer.” The individual can be heard replying, “I’m making money, mother (explicit). Money, money money!”

Capt. John Harrelson with HCPD said the department is aware of the situation, and it’s too early in the investigation to determine if charges will be made.

“We’re trying to see if we can validate anything in those posts,” Harrelson said of the social media posts circulating.

Harrelson said HCPD is working the investigation with Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office. Police said anyone has interacted with the operator of the Pawleys Island towing company should call Horry County Police Department at 843-248-1520.

Jason Lesley, GCSO spokesman, said the department also is aware of stories circulating social media about people attempting to take advantage of others during recent weather events.

“The current stories circulate around a person who owns a particular towing service stating that he may have misled or criminally denied people of particular sandbag services,” Lesley told The Sun News on Wednesday. “Social media postings are informative, but bona fide complainants and/or victims are needed for us to move forward.”

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information or evidence relating to criminal activity in and around Georgetown County to call GCSO at 843-546-5101.

Social media posts began circulating earlier this week about a man charging people for sandbags and not delivering them. In one post, it says the man is charging $6 for a bag. Another post saying he received the sandbags for free during a collection at an area school.

Facebook groups have been created for people to report if they bought sandbags from the individual, including Eli-minate Eli Towing and Recovery.

The Sun News has reached out to Eli Towing, but the company’s voicemail is full.

An Eli Towing in Florida posted on social media that it received messages after news broke of the issue in Horry County. The Florida company is not affiliated with the local suspect and is now sending supplies to help Horry County.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong