Scam targets mentally disabled man 

A woman who is part of a group of "sophisticated criminals" struck in South San Francisco and San Bruno, police say, allegedly duping a mentally disabled man into opening accounts at jewelry stores and a local bank.

South San Francisco police are working with the Seattle, Wash., Police Department to find Ruby Rene Thomas, a 48-year-old Fresno woman who allegedly tricked a South City man into opening two accounts at jewelry stores in Tanforan Mall and then charging $5,000 in jewels to the accounts, police said.

Police did not have a specific date for when Thomas allegedly first made contact with the victim. Thomas is listed as 5 feet 2 inches tall and 200 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Seattle police are involved because when the South City victim opened a Wells Fargo checking account several weeks ago, Thomas, who police say has a long list of aliases and went by "Ruby Molina" in this instance, allegedly transferred $42,000 swindled from a mentally disabled Seattle woman into the account, saidSgt. Joni Lee of South San Francisco Police.

After the Wells Fargo account was opened, Thomas would allegedly direct the victim to withdraw specified amounts from the checking account and meet the victim to receive the cash. Thomas has since disconnected her cell phone, police said.

Seattle police are trying to obtain an arrest warrant for Thomas, and South San Francisco police are investigating her for potential elder abuse.

According to South City police, Seattle police believe that Thomas is "working with a group of sophisticated criminals that target mentally challenged and/or elderly citizens."

Calls to Seattle police went unreturned by press time.

"This group is targeting a lot of the mentally challenged people who are elderly," Lee said. South City sees a lot of lottery scams or so-called Nigerian bank account scams, but those typically target elderly people who are swayed by the chance for quick riches, Lee said.

Police are asking the public to exercise caution when strangers approach mentally disabled citizens and attempt to befriend them. Those with information should call South San Francisco Police at (650) 8777-8900.

dsmith@examiner.com

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