'We all basically got played': Neighbors of Visalia paralegal

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- After a three-month investigation, Visalia Police arrested a self-employed paralegal last week.

They say Patricia Blackwell used social media sites to advertise her services and set up meetings with prospective clients.

"She would meet with them at various coffee shops within the city," said Visalia Police Sgt. Gary Williams. "She would set up a contract with them, take their money, and then failed to provide them with the services. At some point in time, she started utilizing their information and credit card information to purchase items or pay for her social media sites."

"Everybody knew something like this would happen someday," said one of Blackwell's old neighbors.

Neighbors say she was evicted from her northeast Visalia home a couple of months ago.

They haven't seen her since, and that's a relief.

They say they were also victims of Blackwell, who had serious financial problems and begged them for large sums of money.

The reasons varied.

She claimed her car would be repossessed or said her electricity would be shut off.

"Patty would always come out and say, 'No I just need it. I need it. Could you please help me? I'll pay you back, I'll pay you back.' And we all basically got played."

Eventually he stopped giving Blackwell money, and told her to stay away from his family.

He thinks he loaned her between $2,000 and $3,000.

None of it was repaid, and he says he never called police because he didn't have any real proof.

One time, he says, he saw one of Blackwell's clients in the cul-de-sac.

They needed their court papers, but Blackwell wasn't answering the door.

"It's sad," he said. "It's sad to see her in the situation she is. Sad to see her going to prison, or potentially going to prison, but you play, you pay."

But even if Blackwell pays for her crimes, he doesn't think she'll ever change.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office says they've asked Visalia Police for further information on this case before they file charges.

Blackwell has been released from custody.

Visalia Police say there may be additional victims.

If you think you are one, call them.
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