OREM — Police are looking for a woman who allegedly scammed another out of thousands of dollars.
Maria Hernandez couldn'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.
"It is very difficult with my family because right now there is not a lot of work for anybody," she said.
Her husband was installing sheetrock at a Lindon business until it caught fire a couple of weeks ago — leaving him jobless. Maria is only scheduled to work three days a week.
A Hispanic woman approached her at the University Mall Wednesday. The woman asked Hernandez if she spoke Spanish. The Mexico native listened to the woman's story in Spanish, who said her husband had been in a car accident and was in the hospital.
Claiming she was short of cash, she asked Hernandez if she knew anyone who could help her pay her hospital bills. The woman then displayed what she claimed to be a small bag of diamonds she could use as collateral.
I've saved this money for any emergency for my children.
–Maria Hernandez, victim of scam
Feeling for her fellow countryman, Hernandez said she offered to help, and the two went to a nearby bank. Hernandez withdrew $8,000 from her account, giving it to the woman in exchange for the diamonds.
The women exchanged contact information, and the woman said she would pick up the diamonds and repay the cash by the weekend.
The next day, Hernandez began feeling nervous about what she had done and contacted Orem police.
After taking the bag to a jewelers, police discovered the precious gems were merely worthless glass.
"Lots of scammers out there looking for victims," said Orem Deparment of Public Safety Sgt. Craig Martinez. "If you're ever approached by someone giving a sob story and asking for money, if you don't know these people, don't give them money. There's too much of a probability that this is a scam, that you're never going to see or hear from these people again."
Hernandez said she hoped surveillance pictures will help lead to the arrest of the woman who stole from her.
"I've saved this money for any emergency for my children," Hernandez said.
Orem police have not heard of any other victims. They are looking for the woman, and ask that anyone with information call them at 801-229-7070.
Contributing: Sam Penrod