, Orem Police Department
Orem police are looking for the woman on the right in a suspected scam of Maria Hernandez out of $8,000. The woman told Hernandez she was having a hard time making ends meet. She told her to hold on to a diamond in exchange for $8,000 until she could pay her back in a few days. The diamond turned out to be a piece of glass.

OREM — A woman and her family are out thousands of dollars after falling for a clever scam.

Maria Hernandez can't help but get emotional, knowing that she lost $8,000 trying to help someone she believed was in need, at a time her own family is struggling financially.

The incident happened Feb. 13 when Hernandez was approached at the University Mall by a woman who pleaded with her for help.

"She talked to her basically in Spanish about a story that the suspect and her husband had been in an accident, and she needed money for medical bills,” Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez said. “She was having a really hard time making ends meet and she kind of tugged at the heart strings of our victim saying we're practically sisters, we're both from Mexico.”

Hernandez was reluctant to help, but the suspect offered a solution trying to convince her there was no risk in helping her.

“And she said, ‘Look I have got this diamond here that you can hold onto. It is very valuable. If you will loan me some money, I will pay it back this weekend and you can hold this diamond as collateral.’ So unfortunately the victim fell for this and went to the bank and withdrew $8,000 from her savings account,” Martinez said.

But when Hernandez could not reach the woman, she discovered the diamond was actually glass, and she had been duped out of money she said she had been saving for years.

“I’ve saved this money for any emergency for my children,” she said.

Times are tough for the Hernandez family. Her husband was installing Sheetrock at a Lindon business until it caught fire a couple of weeks ago, and as a result he has no work right now. She is only scheduled to work three days a week. 

Police have surveillance photos from the bank that show the victim withdrawing the money while the suspect waited next to her. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 801-229-7070. Investigators are hoping to not only make an arrest, but also get the money back for Hernandez.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com