A Hilmar woman was arrested Monday on suspicion of concocting a story about her 10-year-old son dying of cancer to scam an Oakdale woman in her late 60s out of thousands of dollars, according to police.
The suspect befriended the victim more than six months ago when she went to the victim’s home with her 10-year-old son to sell candy for what they said was a school fundraiser, said Oakdale police Sgt. Gary Vanderheiden.
He did not know if there was actually a school fundraiser, but the story the mother told the victim next was not true.
After learning the victim’s husband had died of cancer, the suspect told the woman her son also had cancer and she needed help paying for chemotherapy.
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Over the past few months, the suspect continued to visit the senior citizen, who would give her money. Eventually, the suspect told the victim her son had died and she needed money for funeral expenses, Vanderheiden said.
The suspect had scammed the victim for about $8,500 when she showed up at her house on Thanksgiving.
When the suspect found that family members were at the victim’s house visiting her for the holiday, she left, but the family members became suspicious, Vanderheiden said.
Family took the victim to the police station over the weekend to file a report. Monday, an officer went to the victim’s house to show her a photo lineup. When he arrived, the suspect was inside the woman’s house.
Natasha Ann Uilani Medeiros, 31, was arrested on suspicion of financial elder abuse and conspiracy. The conspiracy charge came when officers found Medeiros’ husband, William Michael Richards, 33, walking on River Avenue in the victim’s neighborhood.
Vanderheiden said Richards deposited checks from the victim and drove his wife to the victim’s neighborhood. He also was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and conspiracy.
Officers interviewed Medeiros, who admitted the story about her son having cancer was not true. Since both the boy’s parents are in jail, he is in the custody of a relative.
Posts on social media about the couple’s arrest caught the attention of other people in the neighborhood, who remember Medeiros selling candy and talking about her ill son.
Vanderheiden said six people have since called Oakdale police to report giving Medeiros money.
Additional victims and anyone with information about the suspects are asked to call Vanderheiden at 209-847-2231.