Santa Barbara- S County

Tipline Investigation: A Bad Car Deal Shatters a Friendship

NewsChannel 3 uncovers a criminal history and bogus money orders along the way.

Tipline Investigation: Bogus Car Deal Shatters Friendship

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Glorida Valdez feels betrayed by someone she once considered a good friend.

"We developed, what I thought, was a great friendship and I really liked her," said Valdez talking about Tammy Banks.

Last November they worked together at a Carpinteria business. One day, Valdez commented that she needed a new car. Banks offered to sell her a 2002 Mercedes and give Valdez a great deal on it.

"Luckily, I made a contract because I liked her enough that I would have done it on a handshake, but I said I better just write this down and she signed it. And I remember she gave me a hug and she goes, 'Don't worry Gloria, I'm not going to screw you,'"  said Valdez.

Valdez gave Banks $2,000 dollars in cash and two Louis Viutton purses worth about $900 dollars. She paid it all in advance. According to the contract, Banks agreed to hand over the keys on December 16. But that never happened.

"Finally in March, she told me I just decided to sell the car to someone else," said Valdez.

And even worse, Valdez said Banks kept all of the money and the purses.

"I saved that money for a long time, just for someone to steal it," said Valdez.

She called police, but she said detectives were too backlogged to take the case. That's when she called the NewsChannel 3 Tipline for help.

I did some checking and discovered Tammy Banks has alias's, including Tammy
Vines, Tammy Chanel Banks and Tammy Allen. She also has a criminal record, including several convictions for writing bad checks and a felony conviction for Identity Theft and Second Degree Burglary.

Valdez admits she didn't know any of this about the woman she trusted so much.

"She completely fooled me. Almost to a heartache. I've cried about this, I'm not going to cry right now, because it hurt," said Valdez.

When I called Banks to get her side of the story she claimed the Mercedes was in bad shape and Valdez refused to take the car as-is. Banks claimed she backed out of the deal and gave Valdez her $2,000 back.

When I asked for proof that she had returned the money, it took a few weeks, but Banks finally sent me copies of four money orders for $500 each. They looked real, but I decided to call MoneyGram in Dallas, Texas to check them out anyway.

The folks at MoneyGram agreed to trace the serial numbers on all four of the money orders that Banks claimed she used to pay back Valdez.

"Four money orders that appeared to be four $500 money orders. In reality, the money orders had been altered by somebody and they were really $5 money orders that someone had changed to make it look like they were $500 money orders, " said Kim Garner who is Senior Vice President of Global Security and Investigations for MoneyGram.

All four money orders were purchased at a store in Oxnard and made out to Isaiah Morales, whoever that is.

When I asked Banks to explain the bogus money orders, she said she knew nothing about it.

Valdez never did get her money or her purses back and at this point, she just wants to warn others.

"It hurts because you trust someone so much and then they take your money, no conscience, no nothing," said Valdez.

We tried many times to talk with Tammy Bank-Vines on camera for this story, but  she refused.

Banks agreed to call investigators at MoneyGram to clear up the confusion over those altered money orders several times, but she never did call them.

As for Isaiah Morales, the guy who apparently got those money orders, we would love to hear from you.


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