Melissa couldn’t seem to take her eyes off that woman. Could it be true? Was she trying to deceive everyone the whole time? She had so many thoughts racing through her mind. Was she just being lured? Regardless, what if she was also in danger?
However, when the beggar agreed to climb inside his car, she immediately felt something was not right. She decided to follow her to find out the truth. But, little did she know that she’d get caught up in a dangerous situation and discover a web of lies.
Just a Regular Day
Melissa Smith woke up on a regular day and ran her errands in her hometown of San Diego, as usual. Whenever she went to her local grocery store, she saw the same friendly faces. However, there was another person she knew she’d come across – a beggar.
Nevertheless, on that day, Melissa thought something was odd because while she was loading her groceries, she noticed the beggar taking her son and leaving their spot. What happened next is what had Melissa grabbing her phone.
Since the poor lady didn’t have a place to live, she chose to set up in a shopping center plaza which consists of all kinds of retail businesses.
Many people would walk through there daily with pockets full of loose change. The beggar was aware that some people would be willing to give her money, especially with her baby bump. However, she never thought someone would be keeping tabs on her.
Trusting Your Instincts
California is known for Hollywood, including beautiful national parks, impressive architecture and gorgeous weather. However, there are a lot of homeless people and a lot of con artists who pose to be homeless.
Every time Melissa went to the grocery store, she saw the same woman. “I felt bad. There’s a pregnant lady with a little boy who is down on her luck,” she said. She had no idea that her instincts would lead her to such a shocking revelation.
Of course, Family First
Whenever Melissa went shopping, she’d notice that woman wearing the same stained clothes and standing in the scorching sun for hours on end. Generally, she was alone, yet there were times a strange man would stand beside her. Melissa thought it was her husband.
The beggar was known in the area. Shoppers would frequently give her food, drinks, and some pocket change. Yet, Melissa was unable to contain her curiosity.
Melissa was sympathetic to the beggar. As if being homeless wasn’t tough enough, the lady had a family she needed feed. Whenever she’d go shopping, Melissa would pass by her. This occurred for two months straight.
Melissa assumed that she must have been in dire straits to stand in the sun without any food or drinks for hours. To make matters worse, she was visibly pregnant. However, Melissa still felt there was something suspicious.
It seemed as if the pregnant lady had been doing this for quite some time and knew how to get people’s attention. She understood her situation and used it to her advantage. So, she came up with a perfect situation; a pregnant mother fights for survival with her toddler son.
Additionally, she’d hold up a cardboard sign inscribing “please help” right above her bump. If people didn’t feel sad for her or the little boy, they would feel sad for her unborn child. Who knows, maybe the lady was telling the truth. Regardless, Melissa wanted to make sure.
Melissa lived close to the East Lake Village Center and would regularly do her shopping before the after school madness. However, one day, she had wanted to go get a fresh smoothie. It was almost time to close and the homeless lady wasn’t in her spot. Melissa felt a little bit worried and hoped that the woman was okay.
After the store, Melissa decided to stop at the gas station right across the road. As she was getting out of the car, Melissa noticed something out of the ordinary that would lead to an “investigation.”
The Mysterious Driver
Melissa noticed the homeless woman standing on the side of the shopping plaza. Clearly, she was trying to get a bit more money before finally ending the day. Abruptly, a vehicle speeding around the corner and raced towards her.
Wow, there were many questions going through Melissa’s mind; who was the driver? Was the beggar in trouble? What happened to her son? But, as Melissa observed the vehicle, she becomes very wary. Was she overthinking things?
Man’s Identity Revealed
After waiting to see what was going happen next, it appeared that the driver was the beggar’s partner. However, that’s not what shocked her the most; it was the car he was driving.
The supposed partner happened to be driving a Mercedes Benz, which is a luxury car well-known for its price tags. Melissa was intent on acting. Little did she know that she would make the headlines.
“They were leaving, and I noticed they went into a Mercedes Benz. I thought, ‘Wow, a Mercedes Benz?” she revealed. To makes matters worse, the car appeared to be brand-new. Without giving it though, Melissa hopped in her car and followed the couple. She took a lot of pictures.
When she caught up to them, they were laughing. “Here they are counting money, laughing. Their little boy is not in a car seat or a seat belt. He’s in the front seat with them,” she explained. Melissa was angry. She didn’t want them to get away with this. However, she had no idea what else she was about to reveal.
Caught In The Act
Melissa followed the couple and was shocked to see them stop outside another shopping center. It seems they had planned it all. The woman got out of the car and started doing her thing.
“She sits there with the sign while he parks the Mercedes. They put up the sign and not less than five minutes; here she is getting money from all these people,” Melissa mentioned. Isn’t it strange that she knew something was up? However, she had no clue that this discovery would include the authorities. She was just scratching the surface of something much deeper.
Melissa was so angry with the beggar, so she started taking photos of her and her toddler. Was that even her son, after all? Nonetheless, the couple spotted Melissa. They were angered and they started screaming at her. The ‘homeless woman’ even grabbed a huge rock.
“Next thing I know, she picked up this big boulder,” Melissa explained, “I don’t know if pregnant people can do that, but it was pretty big over her head and coming at me with this rock.” Another woman close by saw what happened and called the cops. This made the beggar grab the toddler and start running away. However, Melissa wasn’t willing to give up.
Finding Out The Truth
Melissa wasn’t willing to let these scammers getaway. She posted numerous photos all over social media and contacted the local news station. Melissa had to make sure that the locals were aware of this deception and prevent more people from supporting the con artists.
Yet, the news station was cautious and preferred to find out if there was more to this story. So, thanks to Melissa’s due diligence, they were able to run number plates from the Mercedes. The car was registered to a woman and the address was undisclosed. Oh, this is just the start of the story about these con artists.
Visiting An Encinitas Heights Apartment
Many journalists grew obsessed with this story. They managed to track the lady’s whereabouts to Encinitas Heights Apartments. The rent was $2,500 a month. As soon as word got out, journalist, radios and magazines, knocked for days, with no answer. The lights were off for days and no one entered or exited the premises.
Following something weird happening next. A new couple moved into the apartment and the couple who lived there recently had moved out in the night. Melissa was shocked by the amount of attention this situation was receiving.
Melissa shared this unbelievable story online and proved it with pictures and videos she’d taken. Numerous journalists contacted her to get more information so they could share the story themselves. “I feel bad. Don’t give these people money. They don’t need it. They’re driving a Benz,” she said.
Locals couldn’t believe it. They were saddened to see that anyone would use a toddler and pregnancy to prey on the sympathy of others. Days later, journalists received a phone call that added fuel to the fire. Are you guys ready?
Spotting the Culprit
The beggar has been spotted! A young woman named Rebecca was aware of the story involving the scammer while driving to one shopping center. There, she recognized the woman from Melissa’s videos.
Rebecca instantly commented on Melissa’s post and posted a picture as backing her. As soon as this news reached Emily Valdez, the reporter, she gathered her team and headed to the center. They wouldn’t let the beggar escape again.
Emily followed the lead and began searching for the beggar in the shopping center. She saw several pregnant ladies but none of which were beggars. But, when she finally saw the woman from Melissa’s posts, she was outraged.
Emily was sure that the beggar was pregnant. However, two days after Melissa exposed the truth, the beggar relocated to the shopping center holding a baby.
Finding the Beggar
Emily approached the beggar and pointed the microphone towards her. “Is this you, begging?” While the crew recorded everything. Emily took out her phone to show this woman Melissa’s video footage.
The beggar gazed at the phone and at Emily. She looked at the camera and whispered, “I don’ speak English.” Her toddler tugged at her jumper. He was definitely the boy from the photos. As Emily began following the beggar up the street, her husband showed up again.
Emily kept the camera rolling and would do anything to get to the bottom of this story. The husband did try to keep the reporters away from his family, but the reporters wouldn’t give up. They kept following until they witnessed the family piling into the back of a minivan. The car had dealer plates.
Emily compared between Melissa’s footage compared to hers to see if it’s the same woman. It turned out that it was an 80% match. Emily then observed the beggar’s husband. She noticed something about his response that told her there was more to discover. Her hunch was right.
Placing Puzzle Pieces
The strange man said something in Spanish to Emily and then whispered something to his lady in another language. No one could understand what he said, but she’d work hard to reveal that. Afterward, a comment would unveil the very truth about him and what he was hiding.
Emily put on her headphones and pressed play. She listened to the words repeatedly but couldn’t recognize the language. Luckily, she received a call from an expert that could help her identify what language it is.
Could It Be?
A lady named Leslie, a retired detective stumbled across Emily’s short interview with the suspects. She was a crucial member during the investigation of underground crime rings. Having worked there for 25 years, she became an expert.
Leslie knew that she had heard this language before, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Then, it hit her. Leslie realized that the beggar was no ordinary beggar, and neither was this case as sinister as it seemed.
Skeletons in the Closet
Emily wasn’t the only one after the con artist; the Internet was too. However, they had no clue that fraud was about to be exposed. There was much more to this story than any of them imagined.
Over the years, people noticed a problem in their community. California was perceived as a city of hip culture and lavish lifestyles. Nonetheless, there is a huge problem everyone ignored, and it’s getting worse by the day. Someone wanted to expose the truth but doing this was dangerous.
Discovering as we Go
Leslie devoted her career to catching delinquents and beggars aren’t usually involved in major offenses. However, the language the man spoke made her think that there was more to this case.
Leslie watched Emily’s footage again and it hit her, she recognized the language. This mysterious man was speaking Romani and they had a known method to rid the press. There had to be more to the story.
Detective Leslie soon realized that this couple was in an organized crime ring she had been investigating for years. A group started this ring after they entered illegally into the US. unfortunately, they committed a lot of crimes daily. The group members lived in inexpensive homes and owned multiple vehicles. This gave them knee way to scam so many people.
Leslie told Emily about the ‘couple’ from the footage suggesting they were more likely to be co-workers than a couple and the pregnancy was just a fraud. There are even more layers to uncover this story.
For a long time, officials were trying to bring these comparatists to justice. However, they were smart enough never to stay in one spot for too long. As soon as they notice that someone is onto them, they pack their bags and disappear.
Just when it seemed that everything had come to an end, a man stepped out and provided some new information. This could help the officials find out more about the fraudsters.
Reddit User Talks
An unknown man shared information that could put his life at risk. Moreover, he exposed the details on Reddit. “I had a friend of a friend tell me that they knew them and that they’re just a hustling pair of Con Artists whose families conned their way into the country.”
Oh, but he didn’t stop there. He mentioned that the lady had no choice in these matters. The man was worried about his safety and disabled his profile shortly after sharing this information. What would be the consequences if his identity was revealed?
The Bottom of It
After this, much more information came to the surface. The woman stuffed her clothes with foam and to appear pregnant. Thanks to the fake stomach, she earned over $500 daily. However, she wasn’t the only lady to do so.
In crime rings, the men often lead operations. They provide women with shelter and food in exchange for work. The women are dropped off every morning and fetched in the evening. Those who run the crime circle live lavish lifestyles while their workers don’t.
“They would use infants and toddlers in any way they could. The children won’t attend school because their future is the Family Business,” Leslie explained later. These kids don’t receive an education and crime is everything they know.
“People should know, there’s plenty of service and organizations that exist to help people and especially for women with children. They’re taking advantage of them all as well as scamming people at the parking lot entrances. Neither of them are reporting the money they’re making from her begging and both are claiming poverty to get state and federal assistance,” the anonymous Reddit user added. Moreover, he started receiving threatening phone calls. Before deleting all traces of himself online, he had one last thing to add.
What Can Be Done?
“They might be up and trying this scam again or it might be another woman, either way, call the cops on them, making sure to tell the dispatch that they’re “the BMW scammers” so they’re identified and the state can start the proper deportation proceedings against them… don’t help any of them or give money to any of the panhandlers you might see.”
The Reddit user’s warning was very clear. Leslie’s former team are still trying to catch the people who run these operations. Without Melissa’s intuition, people would never know the truth about these beggars. However, one question remains, If the officials can’t catch them, how will they be stopped?