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North Las Vegas police investigate scam against couple who lost seven loved ones in crash

A family in mourning says they were the target of a scam.
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 10:47 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The North Las Vegas Police Department is investigating allegations that a person tried to scam the couple who lost seven loved ones in a crash late last month.

Erlinda Zacarias, who lost all her children in the deadly crash, said they first met the alleged scammer during a visit with Mayor John Lee.

Zacarias said a man who went by the name “Steve” managed to get their home address through a friend of the family. The target of the investigation then contacted Lee to help arrange a meeting between the mayor and the couple, according to Zacarias.

Lee and his wife met with Zacarias and her husband to give their condolences and offered to connect them with church leadership to provide a location for memorial services if needed, a city spokesperson said.

“It’s disgusting anybody would try to prey on anyone who has suffered such a tragedy,” city spokesman Patrick Walker said. “[Lee] was not personally affiliated with the other individual who was there, and along with the family, believed the man was also there in support of the family.”

“Steve” promised the couple an anonymous donor would pay for all the funeral costs. Zacarias and her husband allowed the man to take pictures of their IDs and check book. He later asked them for power of attorney.

However, when the family learned from the funeral home that the expensive service had not been paid for, they realized something wasn’t adding up.

“He was promising too many things and he didn’t do nothing, so I said, ‘when are you going to do it?’” Zacarias said.

The family had shut down the GoFundMe at $300,000, because they were told the funeral costs would be covered. They planned to use the funds to send to sons of Gabriel and David who died in the crash, leaving the boys fatherless in Mexico.

Zacarias said they now only have about $10,000 left from the GoFundMe after funeral costs and other expenses.

“I’m very destroyed from this, and now imagine someone come and say they’re going to help and all they do is lie,” Zacarias said. “That makes me mad.”

The family started a new GoFundMe. All of the funds will go to the two boys in Mexico, according to Zacarias. NLVPD said the criminal investigation into the scam is ongoing.