Diego looked at his notes for his latest post on his website, Criminal Confessions. He had received a phone call from an informant about Fatima Arroyo, a malicious woman who had cheated people out of their money for too long.
People who followed his blog called him the new John Walsh. Criminal Confessions versus America’s Most Wanted. After all his years as a cop, Diego believed this website was one of the best tools to close cold cases.
He rechecked his post again, just to make sure he didn’t miss anything.
My faithful readers, I have a very special follow up to a story that I first disclosed three years ago. You might remember Fatima Arroyo who had scammed family, friends and neighbors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of seven years. The San Francisco police department had received multiple complaints from the victims. Well, today I received a phone call from an anonymous source, giving me some valuable information about Fatima Arroyo.
The following are first-hand reports about Fatima’s crimes from a few of her victims:
“I met Fatima at a neighborhood block party. After I told her I was a contractor, her eyes lit up. She told me she needed a contractor to help her flip a house she had recently purchased but didn’t have any extra cash. She suggested that I would fix the house up using my own funds and we would split the profit after selling it. She was a vivacious person and easily convinced me she would be a trustworthy business partner.
When the house was ready for sale, we had an open house. Fatima accepted the highest offer. We met and signed a contract. That was the last time I saw Fatima. I couldn’t complete the sale since my name wasn’t on the deed. The buyer eventually sued me since my name was on the contract. Well, it turned out that Fatima didn’t even own the house. It belonged to a friend of hers who asked her to housesit when she went back to Russia to take care of her ailing mother.”
The police found out that Fatima had made off with credit check fees for fifty-three people and the down payment of $100,000 that the buyer had wired to her.
Diana’s story: ‘
“Fatima’s son was a frequent patient at the clinic where I worked. We had developed a friendly relationship and I started meeting her for coffee just to talk. When I told her I was looking into refinancing my house, she told me about a program that she had enrolled in that helped her. She gave me the website address that asked me for some up-front fees to modify my loan, which I paid. I never got a new loan, but I was out $5000. I called Fatima to help me out, but she never returned my messages or came back to the clinic. I tried to go to her home, but she didn’t live at the address on file at the clinic.”
The police subsequently discovered that Fatima had created that website with a few accomplices and bilked hundreds of people. The accomplices were arrested, but she was never caught. The website was eventually shut down.
“I was talking to some of my friends at the PTA meeting about my husband’s drinking and how he sometimes beats the kids. I had to get us away from him. This woman, Fatima, comes up to us and starts telling us that she owns a bunch of apartments in a really nice part of Oakland and would be very willing to help me out. She was also a lawyer who would be wiling help me get a restraining order and gave me her card. I thought it was perfect timing and I was very grateful. But I could see the other women eyeing each other. You know – like we know something you don’t know.
When I got home that night, one of the women from the group, Carol, called me to warn me not to have anything to do with Fatima. She said that Fatima would make up things that weren’t true. She told Barb that she had been a General in the Israeli army, but she wasn’t Jewish and not Israeli. She told Paula that she had been married to a king of an African tribe, but her son said that her mother had never been married. There were other stories that were all weird like that.
But in a way, she did help me. My ex-husband found her card and was angry that I had contacted a lawyer. He took the card and called Fatima the next day to warn her to stay away from me. I don’t know how she sweet talked him or any of the details, but she rooked him out of almost $64,000 by the time she was done with him.”
Fran’s husband, Bill, wasn’t another victim of Fatima’s real estate scam. He was already importing silver from Mexico and Fatima found a use for him in importing drugs for her. Bill eventually served time for cocaine distribution. He tried to get his sentence reduced by implicating Fatima, but the San Francisco police could not locate her.
In 2012, Fatima was caught shoplifting in a Walmart store in San Leandro, California. She had been arraigned and released on bail but fled to Mexico. Reportedly, she went to live with a distant relative of hers.
I learned today from the informant that Fatima was killed in a car crash. He has also given the police information on how to retrieve most of the money that she stole with the intent that the victims will be paid restitution.
The SFPD has retained Hannah Green and Erika Kim of H&E Investigations to manage contacting Fatima’s victims in order to return their money. They had been instrumental in investigating the scams during Fatima’s reign of deceit. If you have an incident on file, please call H&E Investigations at 415-555-5555.
Overall, Diego was happy with the post. At least Fatima’s victims would get some of their money back. He called H&E Investigations as soon as he hit the Publish button for his latest blog post. He couldn’t wait to tell them the news.
“H&E Investigations. This is Hannah. May I help you?”
“This is your favorite cop with some exciting news. Remember that case we worked on a few years ago about the thieving mom who was a pathological liar? Fatima? You tried to help us track her down. Well, her son, Luis, finally saw his mom for who she really was and ratted on her. He also confessed to helping his mother come up with some of her schemes. Check out the latest post on my blog. And just a heads up. The SFPD will be needing your services to deal with Fatima’s victims and dole out the restitution money. It’s possible there will be victims that you may have to find”
“Hold on,” Hannah said. “Let me get Erika and we’ll read it. I’ll put you on speaker phone.”
Diego heard Hannah calling Erika over. There was some discussion in the background. Finally, they came to the phone.
“We just read the post,” Hannah said. “That woman was a lunatic.”
Diego flipped through the original case file on his desk. “You guys did a great job figuring out all her scams.”
“Thanks. We’re happy to help out again. That woman was cold hearted. I’m sure Luis learned a lot from her,” Hannah said. “Out of curiosity, why did Luis call? He could have posted the story anonymously.”
Erica jumped in. “I don’t think he can read or write. I remember talking to him. Fatima used him in some of her schemes, but he was very protective of her. I tried calling Child Protective Services several times. Unfortunately, the Arroyos kept moving around. Luis was almost never in school and spoke very little English. Our conversations were always in Spanish.”
“So was my interview with him today,” Diego said.
Erika laughed. “And he was able to understand you with your Puerto Rican accent?”
“Laugh all you want,” scoffed Diego. “Anyhow, it turns out he’s not just the informant, but the biggest victim. Luis lives in a house that was one of her scams. Unfortunately for him, the house she gave him had been full of black mold. When she fixed up the house, Ms. Arroyo did not remove the mold, only painted over it. Now Luis has lung cancer and has been given only one month to live. The poor kid is only 22 years old. And get this. Luis told me he wanted to even the score, so he called a distant uncle in Sinaloa to “disappear” his mother. Even if we wanted to prosecute him for murder, Luis would be dead before he came to trial.”