Two arrested in $1.2M fraud scheme
Two men were behind bars Thursday in connection with a $1.2 million investment fraud scheme that targeted non-English speaking Hispanics in Southern California and dates back to 2001, Carlsbad police announced Thursday.
Alan Espiritu, 35, and Cesar Moreno, 40, were arrested at their homes Tuesday as part of a fraud case that has been under investigation since May of last year, according to the Carlsbad Police Department.
They are accused of befriending non-English speaking Hispanics, often getting involved socially with their families and guaranteeing investment returns as high as 25 percent from their development company, Permex.
In some cases, victims were encouraged to stop making home payments to invest with Permex, and lost their homes while receiving little or no return on their investments, according to police.
The investigation started after an alleged victim called Carlsbad police to report a fraud. Since then, the case has grown to include 25 alleged victims, with a total loss of more than $1.2 million, police said.
The alleged victims live in San Diego County, as well as other Southern California locations, including Temecula and the San Fernando Valley.
“What makes this case so awful is that Espiritu and Moreno preyed on a vulnerable group of hard-working people who lived frugal lives, saving every dollar they could,” said Carlsbad police Detective Patty Parra.
Espiritu and Moreno each face numerous counts of grand theft, as well as security fraud violations, police said. They were booked into the Vista jail on $1 million bail.
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