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California man used fake military uniform and decades-old image to steal money: police

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An Oroville, California man was arrested after allegedly running a scheme in which he wore a fake military uniform and used a decades-old picture of his disabled son to swindle money out of people, according to police.

The Redding Police Department said Neighborhood Police Unit (NPU) officers responded to reports at about 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, that a man wearing a military uniform had stolen $5,000 in jewelry from a body piercing establishment.

The man, later identified as 72-year-old Bernard Curtis, was seen by witnesses getting into a silver Jaguar and attempting to leave the scene.

But before Curtis could exit the parking lot, NPU officers located him and conducted a traffic stop.

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Police said Curtis was detained and found to be in possession of stolen jewelry, a “large amount” of U.S. currency, and stolen merchandise from other local businesses.

Curtis would intentionally dress in what appeared to be a military uniform, combining branches of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army garments and rank patches, police said.

Police claim the suspect then entered businesses with a picture of his disabled son before asking employees if they would help support his son with money.

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Despite the picture of his son being more than 20 years old, Curtis was able to convince employees to give him money.

During the traffic stop, the two responding officers, who were both veterans of the Army and Navy, noticed enough discrepancies with Curtis’s uniform to recognize it as a fake.

Police said Curtis was a member of the Navy at one point, but he lied about how long he served when scamming people out of their money.

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Curtis was charged with grand theft and misrepresenting military service and uniforms to intentionally impersonate and deceive for the purpose of obtaining money.

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Police added that Curtis admitted to conducting similar schemes along the Interstate 5 corridor in several other counties.

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