EAST COUNTY– Splendora Police say an alleged scam artist recently visited some businesses in that city and took money for work that was never provided. They are now asking any other possible victims to come forward.
Around the end of June, Splendora Police began receiving calls from business owners who said a woman contacted them offering to set up a webpage for their business for $150 cash. They described her as pushy and said after an appointment was set, she called back within a day or so and said she was already nearby and wanted to go ahead and stop by. She showed them webpages she claimed to have designed. She allegedly told some people she moved from San Antonio and told others she moved here from Corpus Christi.
One victim said she told them they should go ahead and purchase her services because the price would be raised to $300 the following week, which police believe was another way to get their money before they had time to check her out and possibly so that she could move on to a different town.
At least two Splendora business owners told police they struck a deal with 44-year-old Audra Smith and paid her in advance for webpages that were supposed to be set up in a matter of days. Smith issued them generic receipts with no business name or other information printed on them. She then allegedly left with their money and stopped calling them. One of the business owners called Smith’s phone multiple times and got a return call only after she left a message telling Smith she was going to the police. The victim told police Smith called her and apologized, saying she had been out of town.
Smith finally contacted a business owner who sensed something was amiss and contacted police before agreeing to meet with Smith. The Splendora Police Department had the business owner set up an appointment with Smith and they interrupted the meeting. A check of Smith’s ID revealed she was wanted for Fraud in Austin County, so they placed her under arrest.
Smith was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on the fraud warrant, as Splendora Police continued to investigate the two cases in their city. Smith has since been released on bond, but charges are pending in the local cases. Investigators suspect there are more victims in and outside of Splendora.
Anyone who believes they were scammed by Audra Smith or with any information regarding this investigation should call the Splendora Police Department (281) 689-3448.