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Is 'blond scammer' crime spree related to others?

‘Blond scammer’ thefts in Santa Clarita may be related to crimes in other areas

Posted: April 20, 2013 10:40 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2013 10:40 p.m.
This surveillance photo provided by the Sheriff’s Department shows a woman identified as the “blond scammer.” This surveillance photo provided by the Sheriff’s Department shows a woman identified as the “blond scammer.”
This surveillance photo provided by the Sheriff’s Department shows a woman identified as the “blond scammer.”

Detectives in four jurisdictions are scrutinizing the actions of a woman suspected of being the so-called “blond scammer” — a woman believed at the center of a ring that stole wallets from shopping carts and impersonated credit card holders to obtain cash or expensive jewelry.

Pilar Raine Abalos, 42, of Poway is a subject of concern for investigators with Inglewood and Los Angeles Police departments, as well as the Ventura County and Los Angeles County sheriff’s departments, according to Inglewood Lt. James Madia.

“Our investigation is ongoing with the members of other agencies,” he told The Signal.

“Most of the actual thefts occurred in areas other than Inglewood,” Madia said. “We just happened to be the place where she actually tried to use the credit card.”

Another woman, Valerie Lynne Ray, 54, of Los Angeles, had been arrested Feb. 5 and charged with grand theft for the Santa Clarita Valley cases.

She pleaded no contest to a charge of identity theft Monday and was sentenced to three years in prison, a court clerk said.

But attention turned to Abalos on Valentine’s Day with the arrest of Abalos at a casino in Inglewood.
Security officers at the Hollywood Park Casino called the Inglewood Police Department Feb. 14 due to a woman trying to buy $2,500 worth of casino chips with identification that was not her own, Madia said, reviewing the notes filed by Inglewood detectives.

“We found two credit cards belonging to other people,” he said. “As well, she had a couple of different driver’s licenses.”

Inglewood police officers arrested Abalos on suspicion of identity theft and held her on $100,000 bail. But the woman posted bail and was released from custody.

“Usually, $100,000 is enough to hold them,” Madia said.

Detectives following up on the stolen credit cards they said were found in Abalos’ possession discovered one victim in Northridge and the other in Newbury Park, Madia said.

That’s when detectives began reaching out to other law enforcement agencies, including the Santa Clarita Valley.

“This is a very complex case,” the lieutenant said. “We’re looking to several other agencies to see how all the cases relate.”
Santa Clarita
Shortly after Inglewood police arrested Abalos, detectives investigating wallet thefts that occurred mid-January in the Santa Clarita Valley announced they had found their suspect.

On March 1, Abalos was booked by “other state agencies” and placed into custody at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, according to a booking log posted by the Inmate Information Center of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

She posted bond a second time on the Santa Clarita Valley charges.

On March 2, sheriff’s Deputy Josh Dubin notified local media that Abalos is the suspect in a series of thefts that occurred in the Santa Clarita Valley.

All three female victims stated they had their wallets removed from their purses while shopping at various grocery stores in the Santa Clarita Valley in January, Dubin said.

Following the wallet thefts, the suspect used the victims’ credit cards to obtain cash advances at various banks and to purchase — or attempt to purchase — expensive jewelry. Investigators said they believe the woman — described only as blond — was working with an accomplice.

On March 27, Abalos  showed up at San Fernando Superior Court to answer to the Santa Clarita Valley charges.

She walked out of the courtroom and into the waiting arms of Ventura County sheriff’s deputies, who took her to Ventura and booked her into custody.

But, as she had done twice before, Abalos again posted bail. She was released on $50,000 bond.

She appeared in Ventura County Superior Court April 10 on five felony charges including forgery; fraudulent use of a credit card; two counts of second-degree burglary; and one count of identity theft — specifically, obtaining credit with another’s identification.

She is ordered to appear back in both San Fernando and Ventura courthouses next month.

Abalos, according to detectives, is one of five people involved in a wallet-stealing scam targeting victims in Thousand Oaks and Moorpark.

Since November 2012, the Thousand Oaks Police Department has seen a series of thefts committed at grocery stores, Ventura County sheriff’s officials said in a press release detailing the Abalos arrest.

“Women who place their purse in the child-carrier portion of a shopping cart were being specifically targeted,” deputies said.

According to Thousand Oaks detectives, the scam worked like this:
The suspects, working in pairs of two, would wait for the female shopper to become distracted. Then one of the suspects would steal the victim’s wallet from her purse.

A third suspect would impersonate the victims and use the stolen credit cards at various banks to withdraw cash advances from the victim’s account.  Then the third suspect would use the stolen credit cards to purchase electronic devices from local retail stores.

Thousand Oaks’ description of the crimes is nearly identical to those committed in the Santa Clarita Valley. The blond scammer is believed to be the one impersonating the card holders.

Thousand Oaks police believe Abalos is one of two suspects identified in the wallet-theft ring. Her March 27 arrest was on suspicion of misuse of an access card, burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

On April 4 they arrested the second person believed involved in the ring: 51-year-old Darryl Kilgore of Los Angeles.  He was arrested on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Detectives continue to look for three other suspects in the alleged crime ring, described as a woman 18 to 25 years old; a second woman aged 30 to 35; and a third believed to be 40 years old.

Is the ring identified by Thousand Oaks detectives the same ring identified by Santa Clarita Valley detectives?
Detectives in four jurisdictions are trying to answer that question, Madia said.

“Abalos and her ring have hit many counties and cities in the last six months,” he said.

“We’re still trying to piece it together.”


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