JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Realtors around the country who suddenly received emails from someone claiming to be a Jacksonville real estate agent said they're worried it could be a scam, because that local agent was murdered inside her Sandalwood home last month.
Police say Mary Anne Rolnick’s son, Scott Rolnick, stabbed and strangled the 76-year-old in her Sutton Lakes home. He is charged with murder in her death.
Since her death, at least two realtors -- one in New York and one in Arizona -- have received similar emails from a sender claiming to be Mary Anne Rolnick.
Nancilee Holland, a realtor in Westchester County, New York, said she worries it could be an identity thief. She said it seemed like a typical email at first.
“It said, 'My name is Mary Anne Rolnick. I am a real estate agent from ERA American real estate. I have a client who is interested in buying a property in your area of expert (sic),'” Holland said.
Holland said a typo and several pieces of information mysteriously missing from the message just didn’t seem right.
“It just rubbed me the wrong way, because my very first thinking was to send a response saying, 'Sure, send them my way. I'd be glad to assist them.' But then I took a second look and kind of looked at this and thought, 'No, something's not right here,'” Holland said.
Holland did a quick Google search and discovered that a woman by that same name had been murdered.
Holland wasn’t the only one to receive such an email. At least one other realtor in Phoenix got one from a sender claiming to be Rolnick.
While Holland said she's still not clear on a motive, she believes the sender was trying to eventually get money or personal information.
“I don't know, to be honest. I mean, the only thing I can think of is there's some way, financially -- it definitely seems fraudulent,” Holland said.
A representative with the Better Business Bureau in Jacksonville agreed.
He said he’s never heard of this particular approach but believes that if the women had engaged in a conversation, the sender might have been able to gather sensitive information.
That’s why the Better Business Bureau said it’s best to do what these women did and not respond.
Rolnick’s former employer, Watson Realty, declined to comment.
Scott Rolnick remains in jail without bond.
He was in court for an arraignment last week, and a judge ordered him to give the prosecution DNA samples.
He’s due back in court in less than a month.