The Orange County Auto Theft Task Force issued an alert on an online scam that has led to dozens of stolen cars since last summer throughout the county.
“It can be an ad posted on Facebook Marketplace, on Craigslist, any other social media platform,” says Ryan Anderson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “A job is advertised and the promise is that if you get it done in a short amount of time you can earn over $5,000 just for a few hours of work.”
Reports of the thefts began last July., according to Sgt. “Right now, we have about 50 vehicle break-ins that have happened since then.”
Tustin police also reported 15 vehicle thefts in their jurisdiction from last September through November. Santa Ana police investigators said they made an arrest in one case last September.
Anderson said that in tough financial times, criminals are looking for new ways to take advantage of people who need cash.
The Spanish-speaking community of Orange has been the main target of this scam. How it is performed? Suspects meet their victims in public and tell them that they need to take their car to transport something.
“They are told that they need to bring money or some other products, that the vehicle will be returned in an hour, and the victims hand over the keys to the criminals. But the vehicle never comes back and the victim is left without a car,” explained Sergeant Anderson.
Anderson added that anyone willing to participate can become a victim, although these criminals prefer SUVs, trucks or any vehicle in high demand.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office issued a statement last week warning the public about the scam, noting that any tips or information can be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers, from Orange.