Men posing as immigration officials in Rosemead take money, valuables

ROSEMEAD — Men posing as federal immigration officials in Rosemead scammed a man and woman out of money and valuables, it was reported today.

In both cases, the crooks wore clothing displaying the letters "INS'' the initials for the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service, Sgt. Jeff Walker of the sheriff's Temple station told the Pasadena Star-News. The INS was replaced in 2003 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Walker told the Star-News that a suspect walked up to a Latino man about 1 p.m. Saturday at Rosemead Park, speaking to him in Spanish, asking him for his papers. The Latino man was then told to get into the con man's vehicle -- later described as a gray Toyota with no passenger windows. Once inside the van, the man was told he could avoid problems by posting bail immediately.

The victim agreed, and the con man drove him to a bank, where he withdrew an undisclosed amount of cash and gave it to the con man. Cash in hand, the grifter drove off leaving the Latino man at the bank.

About five hours later, in the 8900 block of Mission Drive, Walker told the newspaper, a Latino man about 40 years old wearing a blue jack with the letters INS printed on it, arrived in the area in a vehicle described as a white cargo van. He went to a house asking about a car that was parked in the driveway.

"When somebody came out of the house, he asked to see her papers,'' Walker told the Star-News. The woman said she was going to retrieve them from inside her home. The man followed her inside and began searching the home as if he was a police officer. The woman noticed some household items missing from her home after the man left.

Walker told the newspaper that it was unclear if both crimes were carried out by the same man, a team of criminals or simply coincidental but unrelated crimes. Officials were looking into reports of similar crimes in El Monte.