Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Power of Deception: Scamming for Revenge

When officers arrived at Angela Diaz’s condo last June in response to her 911 call, police say, they found her in tears, with a ripped shirt and red marks on her neck. A man had just tried to rape her in her garage, she said.

Anaheim police believed this was the gruesome result of a recent Craigslist ad, in which someone had posed as Diaz and invited men to visit her condo to participate in her “rape fantasy” encounters, even if she screamed and fought back.

Detectives became convinced the electronic trail led to her husband’s ex-fiancee, Michelle Hadley, who soon faced 10 felony charges and the possibility of life in prison.
It was a bizarre enough case, but on Monday it took an even stranger turn: Authorities say they were fooled.

Hadley was exonerated, and the 31-year-old Diaz — accused of posing as a victim to frame Hadley — is behind bars.
"Ms. Hadley is an innocent victim of a diabolical scheme," Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.

Diaz, who is married to a U.S. marshal, faces charges that include kidnapping, false imprisonment and falsely reporting crimes. She was arrested last week in Phoenix, where she now lives, and is awaiting extradition to Orange County.

Rackauckas said he was not certain of Diaz's motive, but speculated that it involved a "love triangle," and that the attempted frame-up may have been meant to "put the dagger into the older relationship.”

Prosecutors officially dropped the charges against Hadley Monday afternoon at a brief hearing at the courthouse in Fullerton. “You are free to go,” Superior Court Judge Beatriz Gordon told her.
Hadley wept, smiled and embraced family members.

“This has been a huge nightmare for me — probably the most traumatic experience of my life,” Hadley, 30, told reporters on the courthouse steps.
She said she had been close to earning her MBA at Chapman University, and “this put a little wrinkle in the plan,” though she still hoped to graduate soon.
“Nothing has ever stopped me before,” she said.

Prosecutors say Diaz sent emails to herself using specialized software to make it appear that Hadley had sent them, and Diaz made false claims that Hadley had threatened her life and that of her unborn child.

Along with attempting to frame Hadley, Diaz is accused of faking a pregnancy and cervical cancer, forging a check, posing as an attorney and as two of her husband's ex-girlfriends, and forging doctors’ notes.

Hadley was first arrested in June 2016 on the day Diaz reported the attempted rape. She posted bail, but was rearrested three weeks later after a 17-year-old boy appeared in Diaz’s courtyard in response to the Craigslist ad.
If they didn’t act fast, police said, they feared it was a matter of time before Diaz was raped or killed.
Hadley was held on $1-million bail, on charges that included attempted rape.
Hadley spent 88 days in jail before she was released on her own recognizance last October, as evidence accumulated of her innocence.
Though prosecutors believe that the attack Diaz reported in June 2016 was fake, they say that two males did respond to the “rape fantasy” solicitation.
Hadley's attorney, Michael Guisti, described his client as a "wide-eyed, very bubbly" young woman with a "lust for life" whose family had to borrow money for her defense.

"To have her so thoroughly exonerated by the district attorney is a huge relief to her," Guisti said.

He would not comment on whether his client intended to pursue a civil claim for being arrested.
Guisti said he knew from the start that his client was innocent. As she waited in jail, she was "expecting someone to say, 'OK, you're innocent and we believe you.'"

Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Zimmer said there was no evidence that Diaz’s husband was involved in the case.
Zimmer said Angela Diaz used software to make it seem as if her emails were coming from Hadley's email accounts.
“Everything we had pointed to Ms. Hadley,” Zimmer said.
He said that while Diaz gave the appearance of being “an upper-middle-class professional,” the investigation revealed her to be “a serial con artist.”

"I'm not afraid to say she duped me,” Zimmer said. “She duped us. It was very sophisticated, well thought-out. The problem was we couldn't get to the [Internet Protocol] addresses."

Zimmer said the breakthrough in the case came around September, when investigators were able to uncover the real IP addresses behind the Craigslist ads and the harassing emails Diaz was receiving. He said some had originated at Diaz’s condo and her father’s home.

"That was the real aha moment," he said.

Zimmer said he was sickened by the knowledge that an innocent woman had been arrested: “I've had more sleepless nights these last six months than I've had in 40 years. The last thing our office wants to do is charge an innocent person."


Anonymous said...

This is the first I have heard of this case. I read this whole post, thinking it's absolutely terrifying. I have never seen such a horrible thing.

C5H11ONO said...

This Diaz character reminds me of my sister. Yup, they are scary.

rob said...

She was an EX fiancé. Diaz has the man. But that's not good enough, she still has to punish the EX.

Marliese said...

Read this in the Daily Mail this morning. Unbelievable! I guess she's lucky they actually investigated but it seems like they should have done more before they arrested her on Diaz's word. I wonder if Diaz got more credibility because her husband was law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Hadley stated going through this was "probably" the worst thing that's ever happened to her. I wonder what else there is in her life that could qualify as a worse experience than being falsely accused of planning the rape and assault of another person. Something else very ugly in her life has prevented her from qualifying this as the worst experience she's ever had.

Bottle Cap said...

Orange County is "sorry she was arrested" ?! How about sorry she was in jail for 88 days? How do they justify a 1 million dollar bond for this, I seriously doubt she was a flight risk? And why did it take almost three months to get the IP addresses?

This is terrifying. Now we know how far victim warriors will go.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the husband feels about all this. If he's still with the con-woman, I bet he was in on it too, otherwise how could he possibly stay with her?!?!

Anonymous said...

@1:41, Good point. Probably stuff her ex-fiance did to her, cause I find it very hard to believe he was in the dark about all this stuff his wife was doing to his ex. The Craigslist "rape fantasy" ad directed at the ex sounds like a psycho vindictive thing a guy would do...just saying he and his wife may have been in on it together. Horrible and that is ridiculous that they couldn't clear it up earlier but I guess as was stated it was a "diabolical plan".

Anonymous said...

I read that Diaz and husband are separated. He was referred to as the soon-to-be-ex.