Horry County police arrest tow truck driver in connection with suspicious sandbag sales

Horry County police arrested a man in connection to selling sandbags suspiciously in the Socastee area.

Officers charged Thomas David Korinek, 40, of Pawley’s Island with breach of trust with fraudulent intent less than $2,000 and cited him for operating a business in Horry County without a business license, police said.

Thomas David Korinek.jpg
Thomas David Korinek Courtesy of J. Reuben Long Detention Center

Korinek operates Eli Towing & Recovery in Horry and Georgetown counties.

Horry County police were called Thursday after reports of breach of trust. Horry County Police Department Capt. John Harrelson said there only was one report filed with the department in reference to the case. Harrelson said there is no indication the suspect unlawfully obtained any sandbags that were allegedly sold.

A victim told police she made contact with the suspect via text message about buying eight sandbags, an incident report states. The victim met with the suspect, paid him $90 for the sandbags, but he only delivered half of the bags, according to the report. The suspect allegedly told the victim he would bring the rest the next day because he was really busy.

The victim then asked if the suspect could deliver sandbags to her father’s home, the report states. The suspect agreed to deliver 10 sandbags, and the victim paid him $160 for the bags, a $60 delivery fee and $100 to secure the delivery, the report read.

Police say the sandbags were never delivered, and when the victim asked about the delivery, the suspect became “threatening in nature” in the text conversation.

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

Posts began circulating 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 said he received the sandbags for free during a collection at an area school.

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 last week that has more than 26,000 views. Tingman said 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.”

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

When a Sun News reporter tried to contact Korinek at a phone number listed on his truck, a text response stated it was the wrong number.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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