VENTURA (CBS) — A Chino man was being investigated for allegedly writing massive bogus checks after claiming to be a multi-millionaire dying of cancer, according to police.
The string of deception even left his family and friends fooled, police said.
“He pulled out all the stops to win their trust,” said CHP Officer Steve Reid.
Ryan Barba, 31, of Chino claimed that he was wealthy but unemployed, dying of cancer and that he had once served in the military.
But according to investigators, Barba was not a millionaire, never a Marine and apparently healthy.
“The suspect was charming,” Reid said.
A salesman at Paradise Chevrolet in Ventura said that he bought Barba’s story when Barba purchased a car. Barba said he would return the next day to buy another car, but before he did the dealership learned of the fake check.
“Our investigators went to the dealership and waited for the suspect to arrive. The suspect arrived and was taken into custody,” Reid said.
Barba had apparently bought three other cars from a Santa Barbara dealership and a Mercedes from Laguna Niguel.
Barba was also in escrow to buy two million-dollar homes.
“First of all he’s using counterfeit checks that he produced using essentially a computer program,” Reid said.
He shared his fake fortune with family, sometimes writing checks for up to $1 million.
“These checks were drawn from an investment account that essentially didn’t exist,” Reid said.
Barba had inherited a family just two weeks prior to his arrest after marrying a woman one week after meeting her.
“Sort of won the trust of her family by essentially showering them with lavish gifts,” Reid said.
All of the bogus buying happened within a two-week period using his new bride’s credit.
Investigators believe Barba has another wife in Orange County.
“If it sounds too good, looks too good, maybe it is too good,” Reid said.
Barba was also wanted in connection with several stolen cars in Orange County.