HOUSTON – A 31-year-old woman is accused of manipulating job seekers into opening new lines of credit and buying expensive items, all part of a scheme to resell the electronics.
Sycira Ortiz-Coronado was arrested on Jan. 30 and charged with aggregated theft.
A search warrant states she committed “a series of fraud-related crimes including false statement to obtain property or credit or in the provision of certain services, securing execution of a document by deception, and felony theft between Nov. 4, 2022 to at least Feb. 28, 2023.
The search warrant was executed in Feb. at the Camden Downtown on Austin Street.
Documents claim Ortiz-Coronado “convinces these victims to obtain credit lines at retailers like Best Buy and Conn’s where the victims apply for credit and buy primarily high-end Apple electronics including MacBooks and iPads. The Defendant tells the Complainants that she is going to make the payments on these items and donate them to a local non-profit.”
Instead, one of the victims, Matteao Roberts, said she disappeared.
“She kind of had a whole narrative,” Roberts said.
Roberts says he was looking for work on Craigslist, which he’s done before, when he came across a post looking for real estate assistants. He reached out to her and met her shortly after at a Starbucks in the Galleria area. Roberts says he was there with one of Ortiz-Coronado’s accomplices and another person in the same situation.
Once the four met, Roberts said Ortiz-Coronado explained before they could join her business, they needed to build up their credit score. They could do it by following her to a nearby Best Buy to open a line of credit and buy mostly Apple products.
“The idea is that we would be getting those laptops off in order to build our credit and would allow us to open sublet B and Bs,” Roberts explained. “She was going to hold on to the tablets, I was uncomfortable with that, but she convinced me otherwise. And left and never saw her again.”
Documents state she would “re-sell [those items] and does not make any further contact.”
The known loss for victims is approximately $21,629.21 in total.
“This is a very out of ordinary situation,” said Leah Napolielo with the Houston Better Business Bureau. “It is very unusual for the scammer to meet in person with the job seeker and ask them to go out and purchase various items using their own money.”
Napolielo said people should take a break and think about the situation they’re in.
“You should also be cautious of anyone that is wanting you to pay anything upfront, purchase anything upfront. A typical job is not going to want you to make that type of payment,” she said.
Roberts said Ortiz-Coronado contacted him again to do a similar scheme. This time he called the police and tried to get their help, but the woman never showed up.
He says he’s still paying off the $8,000 credit card.
“It’s every two weeks. I have a $140 payment and every two weeks, I have a $60 payment and those automatically come out of my bank,” Roberts said. “It’s taken a substantial portion of my income.”
Ortiz-Coronado is scheduled in court Wednesday.