Reporting Stacey Butler
SAN CLEMENTE (CBS) — A cross-dressing man has allegedly racked up more than $100,000 in fraudulent charges for hospital stays in an unusual case of identity theft in Orange County, according to police.
Accused of stealing a woman’s identity, Perla Aldama Serrano dressed as a woman and pretended to be a South Orange County resident, police said.
“This has been a nightmare for the victim,” said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Serrano may not look it from his booking photo, but deputies said he is 51-years old.
Investigators said he racked up more than $100,000 in her name. They said he stole the unsuspecting victim’s name 13-years ago – all that time using her personal information to pay for medical care at South Orange County hospitals.
“Enough personal information that he was able to assume her identity, obtain a healthcare card where he was able to go into three different hospitals and was provided medical services,” Amormino said.
The case came to light in a San Clemente park last weekend when Serrano, a transient, was apparently asleep on the grass when a deputy questioned him.
Serrano gave the deputy one name, but the name of the identity theft victim was on a hospital ID bracelet around Serrano’s wrist.
“The deputy contacted San Clemente Hospital. He was informed by their personnel that that person was actually a male who had assumed a female’s identity,” Amormino said.
Apparently the South Orange County hospitals were aware that Serrano was hospital shopping, but that was apparently just the tip of the iceberg. Deputies said that he had a criminal history and that every time he was arrested, he used his victim’s name and that she had to go defend herself in court.
We tried to speak with the suspect in jail Thursday night, but he was back in the hospital after reportedly complaining of having difficulty walking. He was being treated in the jail ward of Western Medical Center.