Women caught trying to scam elderly woman in Cerritos

CERRITOS – Sheriff’s investigators are searching for other potential victims after arresting two women Monday who they say nearly defraud an elderly woman out of $20,000. Authorities say Margaret Souza, 48, and Teneca Wilson, 41, approached the 83-year-old victim in a Cerritos supermarket parking lot and claimed to have found $120,000 in cash. They showed the victim a purse filled with stacks of what appeared to be $100 bills.

The victim told Souza to call police, but Souza allegedly told the victim that she worked for an attorney who said she could keep the money if she found two witnesses. Souza allegedly told the victim that if she could prove she was “trustworthy,” and that she had $20,000 in the bank, she would split the $120,000 with her.

The victim agreed, and Souza and Wilson drove to a Bank of America branch in Cerritos where the victim withdrew $10,000 in cash from her account. Souza and Wilson then drove the victim to a U.S. Bank branch in Cerritos where the victim attempted to withdraw another $10,000.

The teller at U.S. Bank asked the victim for the reason for the withdrawal. When the victim told the teller what was happening, the teller called 911.

When deputies arrived at the bank, they found Souza and Wilson in the parking lot waiting for the victim. Souza was wearing a wig that disguised her appearance, and the suspects were in a red 2010 Dodge Nitro with paper plates which was registered to Wilson.

The stacks of $100 bills shown to the victim turned out to be stacks of $1 bills, with $100 bills on the outside. Deputies also found evidence in the car that make investigators believe there may be additional victims.

According to court records, Souza has three prior felony convictions for thefts from elders between 2009 and 2014. Wilson was convicted of check forgery in 2003.

Souza and Wilson were charged with attempted elder abuse, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy. After a preliminary hearing at Norwalk Superior Court, they were ordered to return March 23 for arraignment. Both are out of custody on bond.

Detectives are asking the public’s help in identifying other victims. Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff’s Detective Kent at (562) 860-0044.



Published: March 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 48