Newport Beach : Suspected Con Man Captured by Police

Police Monday arrested a man suspected of being a scam artist who tells his victims a heart-wrenching story before swindling them.

Police spokesman Robert Oakley said Bruce Ralph Lepthien is a suspect in several scams in Southern California. The person sought would tell his victim that he needed a ride to an emergency room, where his wife had supposedly been taken.

Once the person reached the hospital, he asked the victim for money to buy flowers for his wife and a taxi ride home, Oakley said.

A Newport Beach housewife called police Monday afternoon after Lepthien allegedly knocked on her door and told her a similar tale, Oakley said. The woman, who lives on the 300 block of Evening Canyon Drive, told him that she could not help and alerted police.

After the woman informed the police, she saw the suspect soliciting her next-door neighbor, who was willing to drive him to the hospital. The housewife told the suspect that police officers were coming and to get out of the car, Oakley said. Lepthien then fled the scene.

Officers found the suspect walking several blocks away. He was arrested on suspicion of burglary, Oakley said, because he allegedly entered a residence with an intent to commit a felony. Lepthien is being held at Newport Beach City Jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

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