Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Photo by John Schreiber.

Detectives from the sheriff’s Cerritos Station on Tuesday issued a plea for victims of two people charged with attempted elder abuse, attempted grand theft and conspiracy.

Margaret Souza, 48, of Quartz Hill and Tenecca Wilson, 31, of Los Angeles, were arraigned in Norwalk Superior Court on Monday for these charges and are due back in court on March 23.

Both suspects were out of custody on bond, said Detective Richard Kent of the sheriff’s Cerritos Station.

Detectives arrested Souza and Wilson in Cerritos on Jan. 22 after they tried to steal $20,000 from an 83-year-old woman in a scam commonly known as a “pigeon drop,” Kent said.

Souza allegedly contacted the victim in a  a supermarket parking lot, telling her she had found $120,000 in cash and showed the victim a purse filled with stacks of what appeared to be $100 bills.

First the victim told her to call police, but then Souza allegedly said that she worked for an attorney who said she could keep the money if she found two witnesses.

Souza also allegedly told the victim that if she could prove she was “trustworthy” and that she had $20,000 in her bank, she would split the $120,000 with her.

Souza and Wilson drove to a Bank of America branch in Cerritos where the victim withdrew $10,000 from her account. Then the pair drove the woman to a US Bank branch where the victim tried to withdraw another $10,000.

When the teller asked the victim what was the reason for the withdrawal, the victim told the teller, and the teller called 911.

When deputies arrived, they found Souza and Wilson outside the bank in a red 2010 Dodge Nitro with paper plates. The car was registered to Wilson. Souza was wearing a wig to disguise her appearance.

It turned out that the stack of $100 bills was actually stacks of $1 bills, with $100 bills on top of the bundle, Kent said. Deputies found more evidence in the suspects’ car, and that led detectives to believe there were additional victims.

Souza and Wilson both have prior felony conviction for thefts from elders and check forgery, Kent said.

Anyone with questions or information was asked to call Kent at (562) 860- 0044.

City News Service

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