Rancho Cucamonga Man, Woman Charged in Instagram Stock Investment Scam
Two people arrested earlier this year after investigators uncovered an Instagram account defrauding victims with fake stock investments have been charged in the case, while a third suspect will not be prosecuted, deputies said Wednesday.
Rancho Cucamonga residents Ricardo Nicholas Ramkissoon, 23, and Zoe Ramirez, 19, were arrested Wednesday on $1 million felony warrants that prosecutors issued last week, San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
Detectives say they uncovered the scheme after one man reported he lost more than $4,000 by agreeing to let the person behind the Instagram account @quueeeeeennn invest his money.
The pair was originally arrested May 8, along with 22-year-old Rancho Cucamonga man Rahim Parker.
All three were released the next day on their own recognizance, but authorities say they’ve since found additional victims and evidence tied to Ramkissoon and Ramirez. Parker will not be charged.
The investigation began in April, when the @quueeeeeennn handle was named in a theft by false pretenses report.
The victim said Ramirez told him on Instagram that she and her mother-in-law, Talishah, would invest $500 of his money in stocks with a return in excess of $1,000, according to investigators.
After turning the funds over, Ramirez allegedly told the victim to communicate with Talishah via text messages. Detectives say they later learned the phone number for the alleged mother-in-law actually belonged to Ramkissoon.
The victim spent two weeks giving Ramirez large sums to invest, and eventually asked her to sell the stocks so he could get the money. He then spent another two weeks trying to collect the funds and was convinced to pay fees for their release after being told his investment was thriving, officials said.
“Every time the victim was told his stock grew, the more he had to pay,” according to the news release.
But the man never got any money and wound up losing $4,000 in property and funds, authorities said.
The Instagram account involved has posted many pictures of a woman resembling Ramirez’s booking photo, including one last October with a man who looks like Ramkissoon.
The most recent post, from April 18, advertises a nail technician account with the name Zoe Ramirez.
The Sheriff’s Department says it was contacted by numerous other victims claiming Ramkissoon and Ramirez defrauded them, too, following the pair’s initial arrest.
On July 15, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office issued arrest warrants and charged Ramkissoon and Ramirez each with 15 felony counts of grand theft and three misdemeanor counts of petty theft.
Court records show the alleged crimes occurred between last October and this May.
On Wednesday, Ramirez was found in Chino and arrested without incident, and Ramkissoon turned himself in at Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court.
In May, detectives served a warrant at the residence the defendants share with Parker on the 11000 block of Fifth Street and say they recovered some of the initial victim’s property, a large amount of cash and other items corroborating the victim’s claims.
Authorities are continuing to turn up evidence in the investigation and believe there could still be victims who haven’t come forward.
Anyone with information can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 909-477-2800. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 800-782-7463 or www.wetip.com.