Fresno Fraud Arrest

September 19, 2008 12:15:05 AM PDT
Fresno police have arrested a woman who they say preyed and profited from those who sought her help. Police said Rosa Gonzalez targeted Spanish speakers, telling them she would help them get out of debt. But instead, she charged them excessive fees and never applied it to their credit cards.Action News first told you about a business called 'Fresno Financial" that was being investigated for fraud back in May. The complaints started pouring in to the district attorney's office and now Rosa Gonzalez is in jail, accused of 43 felony counts of grand theft. Police say 62 victims have already come forward but they believe there could be hundreds more.

Augusto Martinez first called Gonzalez after hearing her ads on a Spanish radio station promising to help get people out of debt. After first telling him it would cost $3,000 dollars, Gonzalez eventually gave him another price, what she called a 'special'. "She said she can make a deal. I said, 'I can give you a thousand dollar down payment', she said okay," said Martinez.

Martinez agreed to pay Gonzalez $450 dollars a month in order to erase his credit card debt. But investigators allege Gonzalez never applied the money most of her clients' accounts. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said there could be more than 375 more victims who gave Gonzalez thousands of dollars in hopes of getting help. "Ultimately what ended up happening is that these people not only lost the fees in which they paid, they continue to be in financial ruin today," said Dyer.

Police said Gonzalez operated out of a northwest Fresno office as 'Fresno Financial'. But like other clients, Martinez never went inside the office and just placed his payments under the door. After four months of payment, Martinez noticed his credit wasn't getting any better. When he asked her about it, he says Gonzalez asked for even more money. "I said, you know what, forget it. I don't have to give you more money because nothing happened with my credit, it's still bad," said Martinez.

Police say they can prove Gonzalez defrauded her victims of more than $100,000 and they suspect the total amount is closer to $400,000.

Augusto Martinez's creditors are still calling every day. While his financial status remains in limbo, he does take some comfort knowing Gonzalez is in jail. "I know it's hard to get the money back, but at least she's in jail, you know she had to pay for it," said Martinez.

Gonzalez is also facing similar charges in the south valley, where police say she operated under 'Porterville Financial'. Police say one family lost their home as a result of Gonzalez's scheme. They're asking other victims to come forward.

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