The sheriff said Alejandro Martin targeted Spanish-speaking job seekers, fully knowing his victims were already vulnerable.
LAKEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- A Bellflower man has been arrested for allegedly posing as an LAPD detective to steal money from Spanish-speaking handymen workers who were looking for jobs.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials say Alejandro Martin, 56, would scroll through ads in the Spanish-language periodical known as El Clasificado in search of his victims. He would contact handymen and hire them to do jobs around his home in Bellflower.
His alleged ruse was this: He would tell the handymen that he's an LAPD detective with access to confiscated vehicles. He would offer the handymen a deal to purchase these cars, and once the victims agreed, he would take their money and cut off communication.
"The suspect doesn't provide the vehicle, doesn't return any of the money, and the victims have no other recourse other than to call the police and file a complaint about the incident," said Detective Cesar Gallegos, who specified that the crimes connected to Martin span from June to October.
This is Martin's third arrest in less than 10 years for allegedly committing this type of crime, authorities said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Martin knew exactly who he was targeting.
"By targeting 'Clasificado,' he knew he was going to get people who are predominantly Spanish speaking, who may not be here legally or their immigration status is up in the air. So he's already approaching people who are vulnerable just by their status," Villanueva said during a Tuesday morning press conference.
Authorities say Martin has stolen a total of around $100,000 from his victims so far. Eight victims have stepped forward, but sheriff's investigators believe there are more victims out there.
Martin was arrested last Wednesday at his home in Bellflower. He remains in custody with bail set at $470,000.
If you believe you were a victim or know someone who was a victim, you're urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
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