Four callous cons busted trying to benefit from fire

How could you?

A pair of San Franciscans and two San Bruno residents are being called heartless cons for allegedly attempting to swipe financial aid and benefits meant for victims of the horrific San Bruno fire that killed four people and devastated a neighborhood in that city Sept. 9.

They allegedly pretended to be residents within the burn zone so they could milk up to $1,500 in benefits and financial aid that are being offered to victims courtesy of companies such as Old Navy, AT&T, Lenardi’s Grocery Store and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., officials said.

Meanwhile, throngs of fire victims who lost family members, their homes or were injured are bracing for an arduous recovery. In all, 37 homes were destroyed after a 30-inch natural-gas pipeline exploded.

The suspects — two San Francisco residents and two San Bruno residents — allegedly submitted fraudulent driver license applications with the Department of Motor Vehicles using addresses in the burn zone area, according to DMV investigators and the San Bruno Police Department.

They hoped for free benefits and financial aid, investigators said. DMV employees working at the aid center in San Bruno exposed the frauds, DMV investigators said.

San Bruno cops arrested Niesha Taylro and Deonte Bennett, both of San Francisco, at the center, investigators said. Sonya Smith and Lisa Justin, of San Bruno, were later arrested at their homes, they said. They were arrested Wednesday on multiple counts of burglary, perjury, and submitting false or forged documents to a government agency.

All four are now staying at their new address — San Mateo County Jail.

“For individuals to take advantage of a horrific situation is unconscionable, and will not be tolerated,” DMV Director George Valverde said in a statement.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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