2nd man arrested in bail scam that targeted Hempfield woman | #phishing | #scams

A second New Jersey man has been arrested in connection with a bail scam that duped a Hempfield woman out of thousands of dollars.

Noel Medrano-Abreu, 29, is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison without bail. He was arraigned Tuesday, with the help of an interpreter, on two conspiracy counts.

The woman was led to believe her daughter was in legal trouble after a car crash and gave $5,000 in cash to Medrano-Abreu’s co-defendant — Wilson A. Burgos-Hernandez, 23, according to court papers. State police said they believe Burgos-Hernandez posed as a bail bondsman when he visited her home Feb. 28 in the Midway neighborhood. He was arrested last week on charges of dealing in proceeds from unlawful activity and theft by deception.

Surveillance footage from her neighborhood helped troopers identify the suspects after Burgos-Hernandez and Medrano-Abreu were arrested in Bethel Park. Police said Burgos-Hernandez had $5,000 at the time of his arrest.

Troopers said Medrano-Abreu admitted to driving Burgos-Hernandez to the Hempfield location and parking down the street. Medrano-Abreu claimed he didn’t know why he drove the man there, but told investigators he was to be compensated $200, according to court papers.

Police have issued warnings recently about that type of bail scam, along with a similar one that preys on the elderly. Troopers caution residents to be wary of unsolicited phone calls where the caller claims a family emergency and urgent need for money. Call-takers should verify information with family members or authorities before handing over any money or personal information.

In the Hempfield incident, police said the woman received a phone call from a person who identified herself as the woman’s daughter. The caller claimed to be incarcerated and provided a number for an attorney, according to court papers.

The woman spoke with a man who claimed to be an attorney and asked her to post bail, adding a bail bondsman was in the area and could pick up the money. She was provided an invoice number and was instructed to hand over the money after the purported bail bondsman showed her the same code, according to court papers.

The two suspects are facing similar charges filed by police in Bethel Park and Leetsdale.

Medrano-Abreu did not have an attorney listed in online court records. Both suspects have preliminary hearings set for March 22.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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