Merchant Pressured for Cash in Phone Scam

After one local business owner reported an aggressive fund-soliciting push by telemarketers that represented themselves as Laguna Beach police affiliates, the real authorities last week cautioned merchants against heeding such appeals.

The business owner was suspicious about their true affiliation and did not give them a donation, police Lt. Jason Kravetz said in a statement outlining tips on how to respond to telemarketers.

Nail salon owner Michelle Ngo, who often contributes gift certificates to fundraising projects of her customers, said she was happy to pledge $199 to the organization she understood to be the local police department. “When I hear of something good, I do a little because it makes me feel good,” said Ngo in an interview.

She concedes she failed to recognize the implications of instructions issued by the caller to fulfill her pledge by C.O.D. to a UPS driver. “I’m busy; I didn’t pay attention,” said Ngo, who intended to write a business check. Within a day, her regular UPS driver presented her with a manila envelope and a letter. “I saw an address in L.A. but nothing about Laguna Beach police,” said Ngo, who then became wary. She sent the driver away empty handed.

Within hours the telemarketer called again, chastising her for not fulfilling her pledge, Ngo said. This time, she hung up, noting that her caller ID showed the number to be a private call. She asked that her business not be identified by name.

Though police say they have received no other reports of similar solicitations, Ngo said a customer, who is an event planner, described receiving a similar call.

The police association in Laguna Beach only solicits via mail and does not make telephone calls, Kravetz said. “Many times these telemarketers will attempt to convince you that they are working with local public safety organizations when they in fact are far outside our area.” Please feel free to contact the local police or fire department to inquire about such solicitations, he said.

The 270 members of Laguna Beach’s Chamber of Commerce and its 3,000-address mailing list will receive a warning about the solicitation scam in the monthly newsletter distributed by email on Friday, said Kristine Thalman, the executive director. None of her members reported receiving similar scams, she said.

Machete-Swinging Man Arrested

A 31-year-old Lake Forest man who allegedly swung a machete at a Laguna Beach teacher was taken into custody by law enforcement authorities in Irvine last Saturday afternoon, police said.

Juan Vigil Portillo allegedly swung a machete at an Anneliese School teacher, who observed him acting strangely in the school’s Laguna Canyon parking lot and had asked him to leave, Lt. Jason Kravetz said. Kindergarten graduation was about to conclude.

The teacher retreated in fear and called police, who arrived after Portillo departed. Twenty minutes later, though, Irvine police received reports of a man brandishing a machete at motorists. They took him into custody.

Portillo was charged with brandishing a weapon and alleged possession of a controlled substance, Kravetz said. Bail was set at $25,000.

Four Arrested in Sweep of Sex-Registrants


Four Arrested in Sweep of Sex-Registrants

Local police and state parole agents, checking on the conduct of a dozen paroled sex offenders in Laguna Beach, took into custody four people for parole violations, Kravetz said.

Last Saturday, June 23, Ismael Rodriguez, 47, was taken into custody at his home on Cozumel, while Sergio John Gomez, 38, and Anthony James Scarpinato, 44, were both arrested at the homeless shelter; Jeffrey McBride, 44, was arrested Tuesday, June 26, Kravetz said.

The registrants were contacted in their homes for compliance with the terms of their parole. Kravetz provided no details about the parole violations. The other eight were all found to be in compliance with their parole guidelines, he said.


Monday, June 18

Pedestrian stop. 11:57 p.m. A 35-year-old Laguna Hills man was arrested for warrants and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

Wednesday, June 20

H&S activity. 4:49 p.m. 300 block of Pinecrest Dr. After a citizen reported four youths doing drugs in a drain pipe, police issued three citations for tobacco and marijuana to Laguna Beach youths 16 and 18 and a 17-year-old from Goleta.

Fraud. 4:56 p.m. 1000 block of Noria St. An unknown suspect opened up credit cards in the name of a resident, making $397 in charges.

Medical aid. 8:24 a.m. 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy. A 22-year-old Laguna Beach man who was hospitalized for an overdose, was absentee booked for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Vandalism. 11:48 a.m. 1200 block of Temple Hills Dr. A mailbox was damaged.

Thursday, June 21

Fraud. 12-02251. 1:26 p.m. 2200 block of Glenneyre St. The victim’s credit card was used at Best Buy to make three different purchases of $99 each.

Grand theft. 3:58 p.m. 400 block of Hill St. An investigation was opened into the disappearance of about $27,000 in jewelry and cash taken over several months. The victims suspect people who have worked in their home.

Fraud. 5:09 p.m. 1100 block of N. Coast Hwy. Three teenagers from Arizona, who had sent $800 by money order to rent a beach house from a person known as “Santa”, arrived to learn from the real homeowner that they had been scammed.

Friday, June 22

Fraud. 500 block of Allview Terrace. A woman in Atlanta, Ga., charged more than $10,200 to six credit cards opened in the name of a local resident.

Medical aid. 4:39 p.m. Ninth St. Beach. A male juvenile suffered a head injury and was transported for medical aid by helicopter, which landed on the beach.

Saturday, June 23

Patrol check. Aliso beach. 3:32 a.m. abandoned vehicle. Young men 18 and 22 were cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Probation search. 7:18 a.m. 20600 Laguna Canyon Rd. Sergio John Gomez, 38, and Anthony James Scarpinato, 44, were both arrested for violation of parole at the homeless shelter.

Vandalism. 9:31 a.m. 200 block St. Ann’s Dr. Someone spray painted a girl’s name on the wall and placed a bag of feces in her room.

Assault. 1400 block S. Coast Hwy. 10:14 p.m. A 42-year-old Laguna Beach homeless man was arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor assault after a victim reported being punched three times.

Sunday, June 24

Suspicious person. 11:43 p.m. 100 block of Cozumel. Ismael Arias-Osuna, 26, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for an outstanding burglary warrant and resisting arrest after a resident reported someone pacing suspiciously outside a window. He fled when officers arrived. Bail was set at $50,000.

Monday, June 25

DUI. City limits north. 12:28 a.m. After being observed swerving in and out of lanes,  Pedro Valvedere Armenta, 36, of San Pedro was arrested for suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $10,000 due to a prior offense.

Fight. 1500 block of S. Coast hwy. 1:38 a.m. Jesse Allett Cook, 22, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of felony possession of marijuana for sale after he was detained by hotel security guards for fighting. In his backpack, police found seven individual baggies each labeled as 50 grams secreted inside a loaf of bread.

Traffic stop. 2 a.m. 400 block of Coast Hwy. A 23-year-old Desert Hot Springs woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2500 bail.

Traffic stop. 2:16 a.m. West St. A 37-year-old Escondido man was cited for DUI and held for $2500 bail.

Traffic stop. 2:47 a.m. Cleo St. A 39-year-old local resident was cited for DUI and held for $2500 bail.

Missing person. 4:19 a.m. 600 block of S. Coast Hwy. A 16-year-old girl from Minnesota, who hadn’t returned to her parents by 2 a.m., was found hanging out at Aliso Beach in the company of two homeless men.

H&S activity. 31800 block coast hwy. 5:37 a.m. Benjamin Dizon Portugal, 23, of  Santa Clarita, was arrested for suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia after a patient was caught smoking heroin in a restroom. Bail was set at $20,000.

Fraud. 12:12 p.m. 1300 block of Ensenada Ave. A bank customer who answered an email request for personal information found $750 taken from his account.

Sexual assault. 600 block S. Coast Hwy. 1:50 p.m. Mario Dircio, 18, of Capo Beach, was arrested for suspicion of fondling a customer he had pulled into a men’s restroom. The victim was uninjured and broke free. Bail was set at $25,000.

Pedestrian stop. 300 block of Broadway St. Ruiz Felipe Jr., 50, a Laguna Beach homeless man, was arrested for 11 different bench warrants for traffic and municipal code violations.

Suspicious person. 300 block of Broadway. 7:50 p.m. Dale Haviland, 46, homeless, was cited for displaying a knife in a threatening manner to a female bus passenger.

Monday, June 25

H&S activitiy. 31800 block of Coast Hwy. Patient Albert Guzman, 25, of Lake Forest, was arrested for suspicion of possessing heroin and a syringe. Bail was set at $20,000.








About the Author

Leave a Reply