LA PUENTE (CBSLA.com) — A La Puente woman is facing 25 charges including fraud, burglary and grand theft for allegedly scamming people who came to her for financial help.
Monterey Park police say 44-year-old Si H. Liu, who also goes by the name Katie, took personal information from at least 16 victims and used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars.
She was arrested July 12 at her home in La Puente.
Police say Liu targeted Chinese immigrants in the San Gabriel Valley by advertising easy, quick loans in the Chinese Daily News.
“They come to a brand new country, don’t know anybody. When someone approaches them speaking their language of course they’re going to feel more comfortable,” Monterey Park Police Department Detective Bing Han said.
According to a press release provided by Monterey police, Liu asked victims for their identification, social security numbers and all of their credit cards so that she could “check their credit” in order to obtain loans. Victims provided the information believing that Liu would obtain loans for them. Instead, Liu allegedly used the credit cards to obtain cash for herself using a credit card machine that she owned.
Other victims reported that she accompanied them to open credit accounts at retail stores such as Best Buy. She would ask victims to purchase items for her on their credit accounts with a promise to pay them back in cash, but she never did, investigators claim.
Liu also made photocopies of identification and credit cards prior to returning them to the victims, possibly for the purpose of committing fraud and identity theft in the future, police said.
One of the alleged victims spoke to KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii.
Mr. Guo, who did not wish to appear on camera, said he needed a loan to help pay for his brother’s cancer treatment.
Instead he said Liu took his financial information and made him buy her electronics for the purpose of helping his credit.
Mr. Guo said he spent $6,000 in total.
“I feel I was defrauded. I fell for the scam,” Mr. Guo said.
“I didn’t get the money and and my brother has already passed away.”
Mr. Guo said he’s also struggling to pay off Liu’s debt.
“I want her to be brought to justice,” he said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a 25-count felony complaint against Liu on Tuesday.
Charges range from residential and commercial burglary to theft using an access card, possession of access card information and grand theft.
Investigators say Liu represents herself as a real estate agent and may own a massage business in the city of Fullerton and that the investigation is growing.
She speaks Mandarin Chinese and has been a U.S. resident for about 10 years.
No one answered at Liu’s La Puente home address, where she is believed to have lived with her 14-year-old son.
Liu remained in jail Thursday evening and was expected to be back in court at the end of the month.
The Monterey Park Police Department urges citizens to be aware of correct financial loan practices and to investigate the legitimacy of any business person promising “easy loans” or requesting personal information such as credit card or bank account information.
Fraud suspects frequently use classified ads to target potential victims, and citizens who have limited English skills are at risk; they are also reluctant to report fraud after it happens.
Additional victims are encouraged to contact Detective Han at the Monterey Park Detective Bureau at 626-307-1246.