BY MAIRE O’NEILL
One of two people wanted by Los Alamos Police Department, Tiburcio Bazaldua, 67, of San Antonio, Texas has been arrested and the other. The second person, Diana Williams, 52, also of San Antonio, remains on the loose, according to LAPD Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez. Bazaldua and Williams are charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in Los Alamos Magistrate Court in connection with the defrauding a Los Alamos woman of $240,000 through a phone scam.
When Rodriguez responded to the report, the victim told him she had been contacted by phone and told that her identification had been stolen and that the government was looking for her because her I.D. had been used to send money to the cartel. She was told that she would be placed in federal prison if she did not send money for attorneys’ fees to clear her name, and that her Medicare and social security benefits were being deactivated to stop the transaction of money being sent to the cartel.
The victim told Rodriguez that the scam began when she was contacted in August by a woman using the name Marie Gomez. The victim said she was also told that a 2010 black Toyota Corolla was rented under her name and left near the border of Texas/New Mexico and Mexico with a large amount of blood inside and it was suspected that someone may have been murdered in the vehicle. She said she was told that she was being held responsible for the rented vehicle and sending money to the cartel and was therefore going to be placed in federal prison if she did not send the money to federal officers or employees of the Treasury department to prove to the government that she was cooperating and not supporting the cartels.
On September 8, 2020, “Marie Gomez” notified the victim that she should send the money in her account so that it could be kept safe until her case in with the federal government closed. She was instructed to send a check to Tiburcio Bazaldua at a San Antonio address.
The victim had a cashier’s check in the amount of $199,943 prepared at the Zia Credit Union in Los Alamos and sent it to Bazaldua. The check was cashed in San Antonio at a federal credit union on September 11, 2020. San Antonio Police Department’s White Collar Crimes Division requested that the credit union preserve all videos and images of transactions and Rodriguez eventually received a package that included a recording of a conversation that took place between a bank employee from the fraud department and Bazaldua and Williams.
In that conversation, Williams claimed to be a niece of the victim and that she was waiting for the transfer so that she could buy equipment for screen painting hats, shirts and cups. Bazaldua claimed he didn’t know where the money came from or what he did with it. At one point, he claimed he threw it away.