California

Oklahoma woman scams 75-year-old who lost home to Camp Fire, California cops say

A 75-year-old who lost a home to the devastating Camp Fire also lost $63,100 in insurance payouts to a scammer from Oklahoma, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office says.

Brenda Rose Asbury, 29, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, surrendered Monday to sheriff’s investigators after driving to Butte County in Northern California, a release posted to Facebook says.

She faces charges including embezzlement, grand theft and elder abuse, the sheriff’s office says.

The sheriff’s office opened an investigation into the theft in July, according to the release.

Authorities did not describe the scam but say Asbury embezzled $63,100 from an insurance settlement paid for the loss of the home.

Detectives had been looking for Asbury since obtaining a warrant for her arrest in September. On Friday, they told an attorney whom Asbury has retained that she needed to turn herself in.

On Monday, Asbury showed up at the sheriff’s office, saying she had been driving from Tulsa for the past three days, and was arrested, the release says.

The Camp Fire, which erupted Nov 8, 2018, was the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, The Sacramento Bee reported. It killed at least 85 people and destroyed 18,800 buildings, including almost the entire town of Paradise.

The fire, which ultimately burned almost 240 square miles, caused an estimated $16.5 billion in damage.

In September, Camp Fire survivor Colleen Kahle, now living in Ojai, California, lost $408,000 in insurance payments in a case of wire fraud, KOVR reported. Kahle received an email telling her to wire the money to close escrow on a condo she intended to buy, but it was fraudulent.

“It really makes my heart hurt that someone could be so evil, and I don’t know where we go from here,” Kahle said, according to the station.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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