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Surveillance video shows fraudster posing as Local 10 employee

Woman claiming to work at WPLG dupes restaurateurs

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PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Local 10 News has obtained surveillance video of a woman who is posing as a WPLG TV employee and ripping people off.

The woman is using Local 10's name and credibility to trick people into handing over cash and delivering hundreds of dollars' worth of food.

Lauderhill restaurant owner Marie Hyacinthe said she is the latest victim of this scam.

Last week, she came to Local 10 in Pembroke Park looking to get paid.

Marie Hyacinthe came to Local 10 looking to get paid. She says a woman named "Sharon" told her she worked at Local 10 and wanted to hire her to be the station's exclusive caterer.

Local 10 had to tell her she's the latest victim of a bizarre scam after Hyacinthe asked to pick up money from "Sharon."

But there is no Sharon. 

"Oh my God," she said. "I feel so stupid."

Hyacinthe runs a small restaurant in Lauderhill called Buffet Creole and she's struggling.

So when the phone recently rang and the woman on the other end said she was Sharon, worked for Local 10 and wanted to hire her as the station's exclusive caterer, Hyacinthe thought she'd hit the jackpot.

"I was very excited," she said.

During the phone conversation, Sharon told Hyacinthe she was planning to give her a huge deposit to cater the next party at Local 10.

"She was going to give me a down payment of $8,000," Hyacinthe said.

Sharon told Hyacinthe to bring the food and $200 cash to a woman named "Tiffany," who was shopping for party favors at a Liberty City 99¢ Store, and then come directly to Local 10 to be paid back. Sharon said Tiffany had run out of money for the party favors she was buying at the store.

Marie Hyacinthe says someone claiming to be "Sharon" from Local 10 told her to bring $200 in cash to this 99¢ Store in Liberty City and give it to a woman named "Tiffany."

Local 10 News has obtained surveillance video of the woman Hyacinthe said she handed over the money and food.

The surveillance video was obtained from the 99¢ Store at 1126 NW 54th St. 

In the video, the woman puts the food down on some boxes, stashes an envelope of cash into her bra and goes shopping.

She is seen on the video buying lottery tickets, cigarettes and a black bag. She is also seen wearing some sort of Identification around her neck.

The woman has a brace on her foot and walks with a distinct limp.

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Who would fall for this?

On four separate occasions recently, people have shown up at Local 10 looking to get paid. Their stories are all similar.

The woman on the phone uses the name Sharon.

"She was the CFO of channel 10," another restaurant owner, who asked not to be identified, said Sharon told him.

He said it gave her credibility.

"Definitely," he said.

The restaurant owner was told to deliver the food to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, where Tiffany would be waiting. He said he brought five trays of food.

"I'd round it up to about $300," he said.

But when he got to Local 10, "Everybody there was blind," he said. "No one knew what I was talking about."

Local 10 gives back to the community, not the other way around, WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina says.

The Miami Police Department is investigating.

"Local 10 is proud of our comprehensive community involvement and the events and organizations that we are involved with are clearly and transparently promoted on Local 10, Local10.com, MeTV and H&I," WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina said in a statement. "We would never operate in a manner that would request donations from our viewers to subsidize our business functions. That is simply not the way we do business. We give back to our community, not the other way around. If you are approached on behalf of WPLG, please verify it by contacting us."

Detectives recommend that you always get a deposit and confirm who you are talking to before handing over anything. The same thing happened at another TV station late last year.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.