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Fundraiser for bogus Victorville funeral results in arrests

Fundraiser for bogus Victorville funeral results in arrests
Victorville police say the boy in the photograph used to solicit donations along U.S. Highway 395 and Palmdale Road is quite alive. (Victorville Police Department)

A man and two teens were arrested this week in Victorville after authorities suspected them of duping people into donating money for the funeral of a young boy who wasn’t dead.

Victorville police say Richard Navarrete, 20, and two 14-year-old boys used poster board signs with handwritten messages to solicit donations along the 395 Freeway and Palmdale Road. Law enforcement launched an investigation Monday after two deputies spotted the group on the street holding the signs.

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“RIP Johnny,” one poster read alongside a picture of a boy wearing camouflage pants and holding what appears to be a toy.

Other messages included, “Thank you & God bless you!” and “Anything help’s!”

Police say the group placed the donated money in plastic water jugs. It is not clear how much they collected.

Deputies discovered that the boy pictured on the poster is alive and is the son of Navarrete’s friend, police said.

Navarrete was booked at the High Desert Detention Center on suspicion of theft by false pretense. The two teenagers, who were not identified, were taken to the High Desert Juvenile Detention Center, according to police.

Police found a person who apparently donated to the fraudulent scheme nearby, but authorities are seeking additional victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Victorville Police Department at (760) 241-2911 or San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department dispatch at (760) 956-5001.

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