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NEWS RELEASE

02/12/92

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

Pair of con artists investigated; one under arrest

STANFORD -- Stanford police have arrested one suspected scam artist and are attempting to identify the woman's partner, investigators said Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Capt. Raoul Niemeyer of the Stanford Police Department said the suspect in custody, a black woman in her middle 30s, was arrested Friday, Feb. 7, when tellers at the Stanford Federal Credit Union became suspicious of a check the suspect tried to cash.

When police arrived, the other suspect had left the scene. The second suspect is described as being a black woman, in her mid-20s, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 tall and 150 to 160 pounds.

Both are suspected in a number of grand and petty thefts, forgeries and illegal use of credit cards.

Witnesses have said both women are well dressed and offer convincing arguments when questioned by people who became suspicious. The two, police said, would go into offices at various campus locations and look for unattended purses and wallets.

They had a "prepared speech" to explain what they were doing, Niemeyer said, usually that they were in the office to meet someone or pick up papers for another office.

What they were really doing, Niemeyer said, was lifting checks and credit cards and entire wallets, then later telephoning victims to obtain social security numbers, personal identification numbers and other information.

The two had been noticed around the Medical Center, Polya Hall and other locations in recent weeks, Niemeyer said. On Friday, they tried to withdraw money from a victim's account at the Medical Center branch of the credit union, but the teller knew the name of the victim and refused to issue cash.

The pair then went to the Pampas Lane branch, Niemeyer said.

The woman who later was arrested went inside and attempted to cash a $200 check; the teller was suspicious but cashed the check after alerting a colleague to notify authorities. While the woman was attempting to withdraw an additional $1,300 from the victim's account, a deputy arrived and apprehended the woman, Niemeyer said.

The first suspect was arrested, booked on a variety of charges and is out on bail. Anyone who may have information on the duo is asked to contact Sgt. John McMullen of the Stanford Police Department at 723-9633.

In addition, Niemeyer said members of the community should under no circumstances ever give out their Social Security or personal identification numbers.

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