Weeks after losing her 7-year-old son to a genetic neuromuscular disorder, 35-year-old Rodriguez sought comfort in a family trip to Mexico. But police say she paid $1,500 for three bogus airline tickets, sold to her by 41-year-old Carlos Ramirez and his sister, 44-year-old Adriana Ramirez.
According to investigators, the siblings ran a travel and auto insurance agency out of a store front on the 15000 block of Parthenia Street in North Hills.
"It's the worst kind of fraud because it's perpetrated on the most vulnerable people in the neighborhood," said Lt. Paul Vernon.
The brother and sister were arrested Thursday morning for grand theft, each being held on $70,000 bail.
So far police say they know of 30 victims and estimate their total personal losses to be $30,000. Among them is the owner of a party store, located across the street from the Ramirez's agency, who thought she had purchased valid car insurance from the two.
"A little bit over a year ago we get a letter stating that she's being sued for a large amount of money because her car was not insured. That's when I went over there, and she didn't want me to make any waves because she'd known these people for years, but that's fraud," said Elizabeth Favela, an employee at the party store.
That's when Favela starting collecting victims' names from customers coming in asking for the whereabouts of Ramirez and his sister. She turned over her file to police, which led to the pair's arrest.
Still grieving from the loss of her son, Rodriguez says it's just not human for people to take advantage of others, especially those who are suffering like she is.
Police believe there are more victims. If you think you are one of them, please call LAPD detectives at (818) 838-9866.