Police searching for Miami woman who targeted caterer in scam involving local TV station

MIAMI (WSVN) - Police are seeking the public’s help in their search for a woman who, they said, swindled a catering company in a scam involving a local TV station similar to another that involved 7News.

Investigators said the woman captured on surveillance video at a Dollar Store in Miami was not a customer browsing the aisles but a scammer literally counting her ill-gotten gains.

According to Miami Police, it all started in May with a woman claiming to represent a TV station and in need of a caterer.

“On May 15th, at approximately 5 o’clock in the afternoon, this woman contacted the catering company and stated that her name was Tiffany and requested that this woman provide some samples of her food because they were having an event,” said Miami Police Officer Kiara Delva.

Investigators said the victim arrived at the Dollar Store located at Northwest 11th Avenue and 54th Street and made contact with the woman, who told the caterer she needed $200 in cash for party supplies. The woman then directed the caterer to go to the TV station in Broward to be reimbursed.

After leaving the Dollar Store, police said, the caterer drove 15 miles to the TV station, where she learned there was no event at the station.

The scam sounded very familiar to what happened to Yadira of Zubi Fish House.

“She requested if we could do some sample lunch for a conference that she had that afternoon at 1 o’clock at the Marriott,” said Yadira, who did not disclose her last name.

After making about $500 in seafood meals, Yadira said, she delivered them to a woman at a downtown Miami hotel. There she was told to go to 7News to collect payment, only to learn she’d been scammed.

Yadira said she gave her food to a woman seen on surveillance video trying to deliver food to a homeless shelter. The shelter kicked the woman out, unaware of who she was.

Detectives are attempting to determine whether this was the same woman in the other catering scam.

Delva had a word of caution to local business owners.

“We want business owners to just be very careful and mindful. If you’re going to provide any sorts of services or any sort of business to anyone, please always accept a deposit fee first or the money up front,” she said. “Always verify, if possible, who they’re speaking with before you hand anything over.”

If you have any information on either of these cases that could help police, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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