ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s busiest hub has been the scene of an old crime with a new twist.
Pedro Munoz was a victim.
“I thought it was legit,” he told KRQE News 13.
A woman who went by the name “Desiree” met Pedro and five of his friends at the Albuquerque International Sunport. She said she and her male accomplice had a security business and were looking to hire security guards at $30 an hour.
“It just happened so fast. She was like: “I need these people right away,'” Munoz said.
Munoz and his friends paid $25 each for background checks and filled out applications. At the Sunport, the woman gave them all a tour of the facility. She was wearing a uniform.
“It was a like a security guard uniform, and it said ‘IRAM — International RAM Association,'” Munoz said.
“Desiree” collected another $50 for a parking pass, then $50 for a firearm class to be held at a hotel near the Sunport in Southeast Albuquerque. But when all the men showed up for the meeting, “Desiree” did not.
Munoz isn’t happy about being out the cash, but he’s more worried about what the woman and her side-kick may do with his personal information. On the application, Munoz said he listed his Social Security number, his address and other private information.
These victims are not alone.
Aviation Police Chief Marshal Katz said at least two other people in March fell victim to the same woman. She went by “Desire” and “Felicia” and gave out the same phone number.
“Scams have happened for centuries, they’ll continue to happen,” Katz said.
At one point during the tour with the woman, Munoz said a police officer even approached the group, asking whether they needed help.
Police believe the woman used the airport to blend into the large crowds.
Many believe that because the airport is so busy — the Sunport handles between five and six million passengers each year — the venue in itself might present an opportunity to take advantage of people who need work, Katz said.
The Sunport already has its own officers and a private security group. That company keeps cars moving at drop-off and pick-up locations in the front of the airport.
Chief Katz says it’s important for people to do their homework on companies pitching potential job opportunities. Specifically at the Sunport, all employees have an official airport badge.
“If someone tells you they’ve got a good deal for you, there’s a large fee for you to pay upfront, don’t do it. Chances are, it’s a scam,” said Katz. “Any questions, call the police department here.”
The woman who schemed all these people has since changed her phone number. The victims have filed police reports.
“I thought it was too good to be true. I guess it was,” Munoz said.