• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Fontana 'baby funeral' scammers arrested

October 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Who could turn away a plea for help with such an adorable baby? Police have broken up a ring of panhandlers accused of running a baby funeral scam.

Fontana police have arrested four people they say were involved in a baby-funeral scam. Investigators say more people were being sought in the scam.

The four people arrested are facing felony charges.

Police say the suspects made between $700 and $1,400 a day collecting money on a street corner.

A woman with a sign pleaded for help to pay the funeral expenses of her baby girl, who apparently died at less than 6 months old. The Fontana Police Dept. say it's all a lie, that it's a scam that's been happening for the past six to 12 months.

"They were tugging on people's heartstrings, using the emotional aspect to get money, but they were absolutely up to no good," said Fontana Police Sgt. Billy Green.

Four people have been arrested so far, including Heather Nichols, 21; Catherine Mendez, 22; Chastity Doll, 20; Jamari Carter, 26.

"What it looks like at this point in time is that the male was the ringleader, putting them on the street corners to solicit donations under the ruse that they were helping to pay for the expense of a funeral, but it was all a giant scam," said Green.

Police say it's been happening in several cities across Southern California, even into Arizona.

In Fontana, they were working the street corner at Valley Blvd. and Citrus Ave.

"We've seen them every day, over and over, same girl for months. No one gives her money -- well, from what I know," said Fontana resident Sheila Saravia.

"There's a difference between someone that's down on their luck, and somebody that has dishonest intentions, able-bodied people that could seek gainful employment, but rather are out soliciting funds in such a despicable way," said Green.

The four suspects are expected to be charged with soliciting money under false pretenses and conspiracy.

If you have information related to the crime, contact the Fontana Police Dept. at (909) 356-TIPS.


Load Comments