Scam Artists Strike in Dinuba

May 8, 2009 9:18:35 AM PDT
Police in Dinuba are looking for a pair of scam artists they say have defrauded people out of tens of thousands of dollars.Police in Dinuba are looking for a pair of scam artists they say have defrauded people out of tens of thousands of dollars.

A pair of scam artists are stealing money by telling people they need help cashing lottery tickets. And police say the same scam has been going around the area for years.

"I was scared, I was nervous, I realized I had been fraud."

Gloria Fernandez is too scared to show her face, but she wants to share her story.

She was walking home from work Wednesday when a woman asked for directions, telling Fernandez she had a 500-thousand dollar lottery ticket she needed help claiming because she was an illegal immigrant.

The woman was eventually joined by a man, who helped convince Fernandez to help by giving them money.

After driving her to a nearby bank, taking 35-hundred dollars out of her account and most of the jewelry she had, the two took off, leaving Fernandez with nothing.

"They took all my money, everything I had."

Dinuba police say its possible Fernandez isn't the only victim. Just two weeks ago, a similar incident happened here. And in that case, another woman was scammed out of 15 thousand dollars.

"It seems like they know who to target and it works."

Sergeant Abel Iriarte says the same scam, possibly involving the same suspects, has targeted older Hispanic women in the area for several years.

The fact that no one has been caught is frustrating for investigators and Fernandez's family, who hopes it won't happen to anyone else, ever again.

"In order for police to do their job, people have to help and they can't read people's minds and they can't do anything if they don't come forward so they can put their stories together and figure out exactly who's doing this."

Police only have a vague description of the suspects, but their vehicle is described as a newer mustard colored Ford Expedition or Chevy Blazer.

If you have any information, call the Dinuba Police Department.

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