A 44-year-old woman who allegedly scammed her victims out of more than $250,000 over the past six months has been charged, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney said Tuesday.
Leticia Ramona Gonzalez Sandoval, a Gilroy resident, was charged with 14 criminal counts that include grand theft and securities fraud, Deputy District Attorney Vishal Bathija said.
If convicted, Sandoval can face up to 20 years and four months in jail, the prosecutor said.
Sandoval allegedly targeted Hispanics in the South Bay by promising to wire money to Mexico, but she instead pocketed it, Bathija said.
Some people invested their whole life savings, according to the prosecutor.
She was the owner of Creaciones Lety, a money transfer service at 7261 Monterey St. in Gilroy, where investigators believe she took $42,000 from customers, according to Bathija.
Gilroy-resident Hortencia Barroso is one of the victims who gave the suspect money to wire to family in Mexico. Barroso said she gave the suspecta total of $28,000.
"I was calling and calling her, but she never sent it," Barroso said. "She answered me two to three times, and then she never answered."
Sandoval also is suspected of taking $224,000 in fraudulent investment schemes and had promised to "share profits" with her victims, Bathija said.
The victims gave her money ranging between $60,000 and $100,000, according to the prosecutor.
She allegedly promised the victims she would pay them back with a couple thousand dollars a month, Bathija said.
Her victims never received the first promised payment, according to the prosecutor.
Sandoval was not qualified to sell securities and never told investors that the state Franchise Tax Board and Internal Revenue Service filed personal liens against her and her business in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Bathija said.
"We are deeply concerned that there may be other victims of these schemes," Bathija said in a statement.
"If you believe that you may be a victim, please contact your local police as soon as possible," Bathija said.
She was booked into county jail in lieu of $1 million bail, according to prosecutors.
Gonzalez's is scheduled to appear in court on June 9 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill, prosecutors said.
Anyone who believes they are a victim of the alleged scams is asked to contact Gilroy police Detective Rick Jenkins at 408-846-0350 or Rick.Jenkins@ci.gilroy.ca.us.
NBC Bay Area's Ian Cull contributed to this report.