OAKDALE -- A pristine, quiet neighborhood where children play and the beauty of fall lines the streets. On River Avenue in Oakdale, families always help one another, but a sinister visitor took advantage of their kindness.
"That’s pretty dirty that somebody would do something like that,” neighbor Ron Dunnagan said.
Investigators said Hilmar mother Natasha Medeiros went door-to-door selling candy bars for her 10-year-old son’s school.
"As they found people who would give them money, they would determine who would be their best victims and come back at a later time and recontact them,” Lt. Joe Johnson with the Oakdale Police Department explained.
Johnson said that’s when the fundraiser scam turned into an elaborate scheme.
Detectives say Medeiros found an elderly woman and told her that her 4-year-old son had cancer and went as far as telling the woman the boy died and needed money for his funeral.
The woman who lost her husband to the disease handed over more than $8,500.
"Preyed on her sympathies with the whole cancer story and on several occasions got her to give them cash,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Medeieros does have a 10-year-old, but there’s no school and no 4-year-old with cancer. They now believe there are more victims. Neighbors are outraged.
"Oh my gosh! That’s a real shame, you know, to do that,” Modesta Utley said.
Medeiros and her fiance, William Richards, were both arrested on Monday for financial elder abuse and conspiracy. For his part, investigators said Richards received some checks from the victim.
As for neighbors, they’re still saddened that someone would use cancer to steal money from someone who wanted to help.
The 10-year-old is with a relative and investigators believe more people may have been scammed.