Police looking into reports of Theresa Darrah scamming businesses

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Thousand Palms, Calif. - Some Coachella Valley business owners say she took thousands of dollars from them for what was to be advertising on restaurant table tops, but the ads never surfaced. 

Now, following our initial report http://www.kesq.com/news/business-owners-feel-taken-by-advertising-saleswoman/25257128  the Riverside County Sheriff's Department tells CBS Local 2 and News Channel 3 it has begun an investigation into Theresa Darrah.

Dozens of e-mails and phone calls have come in to our newsroom in the 24 hours after our initial report.

"It's a Ponzi scheme. She never has any intention of putting a table top anywhere," says home inspector, Bruce Carmichael. "I wasn't surprised. I'm just happy the news has picked up on this, because I think she's taken a lot of people in the desert for a lot of money."

Carmichael is just one of about 50 people who contacted us with stories of being scammed out of money ranging from $1500 up to $7000 dollars by Theresa Darrah. 

A common theme emerges of Darrah encouraging people to post-date checks she promises to hold, then they say she cashes them immediately and never delivers on her promise of advertising on restaurant table tops across the desert. Some say they get no advertising exposure from Darrah.  

"I would hope that the D.A. would get involved and put a stop to this," Carmichael said.

While the District Attorney has not yet granted us an interview, Riverside County Sheriff's Captain Kevin Vest has, confirming his Palm Desert office received multiple calls since our story aired, and they have begun looking into the matter.

"We have an active case that we're investigating," Vest said.

Carmichael says he'll be contacting police soon.

"I have the documentation to show she forged my name on the second contract," Carmichael said. "I'll get that together and bring it by so they'll have that, too. Because she needs to be stopped."

Captain Vest encourages people who feel they've been scammed to file a police report.

"Probably the best case would be to contact their local law enforcement agency, and obviously mention your story," Vest said. "If there is going to be a successful prosecution on this, it's going to have to be showing a pattern of behavior with an intent to defraud. In that case, more victims would be helpful because it does show a pattern of behavior over a period of time."

Captain Vest also warns people against anyone that asks them to post-date a check. He says it is a red flag for a potential scam.

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