2 arrested in Modesto dead baby scam at it again, San Diego authorities say

August 18, 2011 

Two women arrested in Modesto earlier this summer for collecting money for the funeral of a baby that didn’t exist apparently are at it again a few hundred miles to the south.

In June, Modesto police arrested Tiffany Lyon, 27, of Modesto and Chasity Doll, 20, of Sun City. The two women were standing in a street near Vintage Faire Mall, waving a poster with a photograph of a baby Lyon claimed was hers.

This week, passers-by at a San Marcos shopping center saw two women with another poster depicting a photo of a baby and seeking donations. A photograph published in the North County Times shows a woman who looks like Lyon holding a poster nearly identical to the one Modesto Police confiscated.

“It’s pretty obvious they’re the same people,” San Diego County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Deese said today.

A caller alerted the newspaper to the women’s apparent plight, seeking publicity to get them some more help. A Times reporter went to the scene; one woman claimed to be the baby’s mother and the second her sister, the paper reported.

By the time deputies arrived, the women were gone. Deese said he has been in touch with the Modesto Police Department to compare notes on the cases.

In Stanislaus County, Lyon and Doll were charged June 30 with a felony count of conspiracy to cheat and defraud by false pretenses and a misdemeanor charge of giving false ID to a peace officer. Lyon claimed to be the baby’s mom and Doll her sister in Modesto, as well, authorities said.

The women pleaded not guilty and were released on bail, Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said. They are set to return to court Sept. 1.

Modesto police confiscated about $640 from the women during their June arrest. The poster used in Modesto was yellow, with a photo of a baby labeled “Justin Michael Farrell” with a June 6 date of death. The poster in San Diego County also was yellow, with similar lettering and the same photo, identified this time as “James Matthew Foster” with a date of death of Aug. 6, the Times reported.

Deese said he doesn’t know how much money the women got in San Diego County, where they collected for at least two days before disappearing around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

“Who knows where they were between June and now,” he said. “Could be they’ve been working their way down (the state).” Deese said it’s unlikely the pair remained in the area. Several news organizations have covered the story, which he said has sparked outrage in San Diego County.

“(The crime) is no different than people going door to door, collecting money for police or fire charities that don’t exist,” he said.

But using a fake story of a dead baby is more offensive.

“Something like this really gets to people.”

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