Crime Trackers

Oct 31, 2013 9:33 PM by Lupita Murillo

Counterfeit thief hits Tucson Girls Chorus Pumpkin Patch

TUCSON - A nonprofit organization and a longtime silversmith are the latest victims to come forward in a counterfeit scheme. Since Tuesday, News 4 Tucson's Crime Trackers has been on the trail of a woman accused of ripping off small businesses by passing off counterfeit bills.

There's new surveillance video emerging from Carlos Diaz Silversmiths at Campbell and Glenn. It shows the same woman wearing the same color purple scrubs buying merchandise, paying with a $100 counterfeit bill. The woman was in the store on September 23rd. The video also shows the owner Carlos Diaz, giving her change.

Near the end of the transaction, the woman extends her hand and shakes Diaz' hand.
Diaz has been in business 55 years, and says he's never been given counterfeit money.
"I was very disappointed to find out that such a nice lady was so dishonest and swindled people like that. Very disappointed. "

The woman also ripped off the Tucson Girls Chorus Pumpkin Patch at Wilmot and Broadway. The organization is made up of 155 girls from kindergarten to seniors in high school. The Pumpkin Patch raises money for scholarships.

7-year-old Aurelia Rensema depends on money from the pumpkin patch for her tuition. She tells News 4 Tucson the Tucson Girls Chorus has, " really nice people and they also help you learn a lot about music."

Two weeks ago, the woman wearing purple scrubs claiming to be a nurse at Tucson Medical Center came to the Pumpkin Patch and purchased $40 dollars worth of pumpkins with a $100-bill. Talia Sanders, is a board member and Girls Chorus alumni, "She said she wanted to help the girls and so I took the bill and gave her some change. Quite a bit of change and she took our pumpkins and our money."

Sanders, saw our story and immediately recognized the woman wearing the purple scrubs. "I can't believe that somebody would have the audacity to do that."

Hailey Butler and Mari Badart are members of the advance choir. They are required to help out at the Pumpkin Patch, as all members are. Butler says, "A lot of the money from this patch and what we do in general goes to girls for scholarship money."

So when they heard about the counterfeit bill they were given Badart says, "It breaks my heart to know that somebody tried to fraud a good amazing organization like this."

Other supporters of the girls chorus who stopped by to buy pumpkins are disbelief and disgusted this woman is stealing from a nonprofit organization. Vanessa Zazueta is outraged because the thief is posing as a nurse, "My husband is a nurse at TMC, and they don't wear purple scrubs. So it's offending and it's horrible."

The Pumpkin Patch has slashed their prices and they are open until 9:00 Thursday evening, they will also be open Friday.

A report was filed with the Secret Service.


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