Gena Beamon, a retired Valencia resident, is claiming a known crime ring targeted her, and her brother, after they left a Wells Fargo bank on McBean Parkway on Wednesday with $10,000 in cash.
The money was a gift from her brother, Michael, who wanted to help his sister out as she was struggling to keep up with skyrocketing rent costs in California, she said, adding the money was her ticket to more affordable housing in Nevada, where she hoped she could get back on her feet after a financially rough period of her life.
With that amount of money, she wanted to be safe and have it wired. But, she said, Wells Fargo told her that could take several business days to happen, so they opted to take it out in cash instead.
But on the way to deposit the money from Wells Fargo to her own bank, her car’s low tire pressure warning went off, she said. With that much money in the car, she pulled into an apartment complex on Decoro Drive so she and her brother could change what they thought was a flat, she said.
“We had to stop in front of the apartment complex because I didn’t want to stop anywhere, where it was unsafe,” said Beamon.
As she inspected the flat, she said, a man approached on foot and asked if they needed assistance. Beamon described him as a Hispanic male wearing an orange vest.
“He was talking in Spanish and saying something about our tire, he just came up to me and I said, ‘No, I don’t need no help. Bye.’ I just waved him off because I was talking to the insurance company,” said Beamon.
The man apparently insisted on helping Beamon’s brother change the tire and eventually he did, as Beamon was distracted getting in touch with an insurance agent with spotty cell service, she said.
During the chaotic scene, Beamon said, a black Toyota Camry pulled up with a man and a woman in the car. The woman asked in Spanish if she needed assistance, to which Beamon waved her off.
When Beamon turned her attention back to the man, her brother and the tire, the man in the vest said he “had to leave,” and that he’d be back. He hopped in the car that had arrived and left with the man and the woman, Beamon said.
The man never returned and Beamon’s purse, along with the $10,000, was gone, she said.
Distraught, Beamon and her brother took her car, now with the spare on, to a local tire shop. The shop told her they couldn’t repair the tire, as it had been slashed, she said.
She said the loss has been devastating for her.
“I’m out of 10 grand, all my insurance companies, my renter’s insurance company, my auto insurance company, they said private property insurance only goes up to $200. Well, never mind because I need to send $10,000, because if I don’t, I’ll be homeless,” said Beamon. You know, because (now) I’ve got to try to find someone who can loan me $10,000.”
Beamon said deputies told her this “slash and dash” modus operandi is the work of a known crime ring that’s been operating in the Santa Clarita Valley for months, and they typically hang out around or in banks to either eavesdrop or watch for signs of large withdrawals are being made.
Deputy Kabrina Borbon, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriffs Station, confirmed that a report was taken for the incident and it is being investigated as a grand theft.