NEWS RELEASENEWS RELEASE

Laura Farinella
Chief of Police
505 Forest Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92651


2/6/2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE 18-003
 
Subject :Costa Mesa Resident Charged with Defrauding Laguna Beach Business of over $265,000.00
Contact :Sgt. Jim Cota, Public Information Officer    (949) 464-6671
    jcota@lagunabeachcity.net

On January 22, 2016, Laguna Beach Police Detectives began a grand theft investigation against Nhora Johanna Tellez, a resident of Costa Mesa.  The investigation began when a Laguna Beach business owner identified his bookkeeper/office manager, Tellez, as the person who defrauded him for over $80,000 from his marketing business, Laguna Coast Corporation.

Tellez was the bookkeeper and office manger at the victim’s business which gave her access to the victim’s financial information. It was discovered that Tellez had accessed and changed the login information for all of the victim’s investments and credit card accounts on an office (business) computer. Tellez created passwords for each online account and notifications of access or fraud to these accounts that were rerouted to an email address assigned to Tellez.

This lengthy investigation revealed that Tellez devised and executed a scheme to defraud and obtain money from Laguna Coast Corporation by gaining the trust of the owner, who allowed her to gain control over the financial accounts. Documents and business records obtained in this investigation were forwarded to OCDA Major Fraud unit which, after further review, determined that Tellez had actually embezzled approximately $265,390.67. Tellez used the money embezzled from the victim for a variety of personal expenses including Veterinarian visits, entertainment expenses, living expenses, and vacations that involved the purchasing of airline tickets. Cash advances were also conducted at various ATM machines throughout Orange County. Still images of the ATM cash advances were obtained and Tellez was positively identified as being the individual who completed the fraudulent transactions. To date, none of the embezzled funds have been returned by Tellez to the victim. 

On January 24, 2018, Laguna Beach Police Department detectives arrested Nhora Johanna Tellez in the City of Costa Mesa for Penal Code 487-Grand Theft. 

"This lengthy and time-consuming investigation serves as a reminder that our police department will pursue any individual(s) in positions of trust who take advantage of businesses and innocent victims.  We brought in every available resource, including our partners from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, to ensure that this case would be appropriately investigated, prosecuted, and justice would be served,” Said Captain Jeff Calvert, LBPD. 

###