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Baby funeral scam nets thousands of dollars, Fontana police say

October 19, 2011 |  6:04 pm

Baby funeral scam case
Fontana police officers responding to a call about a woman begging for money for an infant's funeral led investigators to uncover an alleged scam in which panhandlers netted thousands of dollars on behalf of babies who never died, authorities said Wednesday.

The woman, who was holding a sign with an infant's photo, allegedly admitted to investigators that she was part of an operation in which people were soliciting money for what they said would be used pay for funeral services for dead babies, the Fontana Police Department said.

But there were no dead infants, police said, and the money was pocketed by at least four Inland Empire residents who have been arrested in connection with the incident.

The operation netted from $700 to $1,400 a day and had been ongoing for six months to a year in San Diego, Modesto and Arizona, Sgt. Billy Green told The Times.

"The scammers were leveraging the emotional aspects of a dead infant," the department said in a statement.

Those arrested were identified as Heather Nichols, 21 of Beaumont; Catherine Mendez, 22, of Beaumont; Chasity Doll, 20, of Cherry Valley; and Jamari Carter, 26, of Highland.

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-- Robert J. Lopez

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Photo: A sign allegedly used in the baby funeral scam.

Credit: Fontana Police Department

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