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Suspect Used Random Photos Of Children To Scam Money, Authorities Say

A man allegedly made up a story surrounding two found photographs, saying the girls pictured were his recently deceased nieces and that he needed donations to pay for a funeral, authorities said. The suspect convinced a market to set up a donation box, but when he came to pick up $437 people had put up for the funeral, sheriff's deputies were waiting with handcuffs.

The story unraveled this week when a woman went to the Palmdale grocery store, saw the box, and recognized the girls in the photo as her very-alive daughters, said Lt. Ken Wright of

the Palmdale Sheriff's Station. Desiree Ramirez reported the scam to the manager of the Vallarta Market, who then alerted deputies.

Market employees helped deputies arrange a sting: They called the suspect and told him to come get his money. When he arrived deputies arrested the man, identified as Saul Lopez of Palmdale, on suspicion of grand theft.

Sheriff's officials say Lopez allegedly placed a second box at the Mi Ranchito restaurant in Palmdale, too. Anyone who made donations was asked to call Detective Daniel Wolanski at 661-272-2442.