'I'm living in a car:' Woman scammed by fake real estate loses thousands

PARLIER, Calif. (KFSN) -- Families in Parlier just wanted a place to live. They were shown photos and exteriors of several homes and told they were in pre-foreclosure so they couldn't go inside yet.

Herlinda Diaz gave $7,500 to Maria Teresa Flores-Morales for a house that wasn't even for sale.

"(It's) bad because I don't even have a home now. I'm living in a car with my kids," Diaz said.

Diaz has five children and has no money.

Flores-Morales also went by Marte Guido on Facebook. A six-week Parlier Police investigation ended with her arrest. At least 16 Parlier families, undocumented workers, were taken advantage of, losing $110,000.

"The suspect was tracked down by multiple victims who came into the Parlier Police Department," said Sgt. Dan Barcellos. "They all had the same story, same kind of justification as far as what was going on."

Parlier Mayor Alma Beltran met with several undocumented families, mostly farm laborers, who had been victimized.

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"You hear of scams, and you never expect it to happen in your own hometown," she said. "You're like buyer beware. Make sure you know. Look into their background. Go to the Better Business Bureau."

Diaz says she was threatened with deportation after she complained to Flores-Morales when the home sale didn't go through.

"A lot of families were afraid to come forward," Diaz said.

It was a far-reaching scam.

Mayor Beltran says one family in San Jose, introduced to Flores-Morales, lost $50,000.

Parlier Police are asking other victims to come forward.
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