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Masked Cancer Patient Walks Into Bank, Mistaken For Wanted Robber

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MONTEBELLO (CBSLA.com) — A man walked into his Wells Fargo Friday with a mask on, but he was no robber.  Far from it.

Joe Jaramillo, a cancer patient, had undergone chemotherapy the day before. The surgical mask was to fight germs.

“I felt so embarrassed and humiliated,” said Jaramillo, asked how he felt when he was surrounded by police.

He spoke to KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo about being confused for a wanted bank robber.

Just doing the mundane tasks, like going to the bank, are a blessing for Jaramillo, 57, and fighting lymphoma.

“I just wanted to do something on my own,” he says.

Against medical advice, he went to his Wells Fargo — on Whittier Boulevard in Montebello — to make a withdrawal first thing Friday morning.

The FBI, meanwhile, thought he might be the “Surgical Mask” bandit, wanted for at least two bank heists in Orange County. The “Surgical Mask” bandit is considered armed and dangerous.

“The next thing I know, I have six Montebello police officers around me, standing there saying, ‘Can you stand up, can you put your hands above your head’?’ What did I do? ‘Can you please stand up, sir?’ I go, ‘Really?’ This is so embarrassing, you have all these people at the bank [watching],” says Jaramillo.

He had been waiting for his transaction for a while. He told the teller the reason he was wearing the mask, “I told them I am wearing the mask, I just had chemo yesterday.”

Jaramillo says the teller kept coming up with reasons they couldn’t finish the transaction. He believes now they were stalling until police could arrive.

“Then I noticed, behind the scenes, they even had shotguns,” says Jaramillo.

To hear Jaramillo tell it, mask or no mask, he doesn’t see the resemblance. “To me, he doesn’t look anything like me,” says Jaramillo.

Police questioned him, searched his car and ultimately apologized for the inconvenience.

He says he really doesn’t fault police but he is upset with the bank.

In a statement, Wells Fargo said, “This is the first I am hearing of this. Because the bank is closed tonight, I can’t speak to the branch manager and cannot provide any information until tomorrow and comment on the situation.”

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