Two arrested in scheme to steal from Tulare County COVID assistance funds, police say

State News

Photos of Daniel Munoz and Melissa Esparza provided by Tulare Police Department

TULARE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Two Tulare residents were arrested for attempting to defraud a COVID-19 relief fund meant to assist residents struggling to make rent or mortgage payments during the pandemic, according to Tulare police detectives.

In May, Tulare police were notified that someone may be submitting fraudulent applications for financial assistance through the Tulare County Housing Authority.

According to investigators, Daniel Munoz, 39, and Melissa Esparza, 38, both of Tulare, are suspected of submitting fraudulent applications. Police say they already received over $2,200 from the Tulare County Housing Authority.

On July 6, Munoz attempted to receive an additional check for $3,000, but police say when he arrived at the Housing Authority office officers from the Tulare Police Department were waiting for him.

Munoz and Esparza were arrested and booked into Tulare County jail on charges of forgery and fraudulent personation.

Investigators think there was a third suspect working the Munoz and Esparza and are investigating further.

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