Santa Clarita valley

Panhandlers Run Fake Heart Transplant Scam on Drivers

Authorities are warning Santa Clarita Valley residents about a group of panhandlers who are actually running a scam.

Deputies say the suspects were walking in the middle of the street Friday afternoon on Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway. Drivers posted photos of the group on social media as they held signs and jugs, trying to collect money for a child supposedly in need of a heart transplant.

One of the signs had hearts drawn on it and bore two photos of a child. It read, "Please help this baby for heart transplant. Anything is welcomed. God bless."

Deputies caught one suspect, a 17-year-old girl who was carrying a sign and jug in which she had already collected $200. The others ran away.

"Deputies determined the donations they were requesting were not legit; it was a scam so the deputies placed the female under arrest at the time," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Deputy Chris Craft said.

Authorities believe the same group may have been running a similar scam in the San Dimas area. Drivers in Santa Clarita said they're skeptical when they see similar signs.

"I'm not that trusting," said Fred Armisted. "I do feel sorry and it could even be legit in some cases, but I'm just not that type of a person to just say, 'Here.' It's my money; it's hard-earned."

Deputies warn that people should only donate to legitimate and verified charities in order to avoid similar scams.

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