SANTA MONICA—A 25 year old man from Santa Monica accused of scamming teenagers via Instagram was arrested on Thursday, September 19.
Davante Bell, who is also a registered sex offender, utilized his Instagram account to befriend many of his teenage victims. Once he befriended his victim, he would take over the user’s account and pose as the account holder.
According to officials, Bell would send direct messages to victims asking for their assistance cashing a check. Once the victim agreed to assist Bell, he would ask for the victim’s cell phone number to communicate further.
Once the cell phone number was obtained, he would tell the victim that the account holder’s brother-in-law would meet them at the bank with checks. Bell would pose as the brother-in-law and provided victims with forged checks for them to cash at the bank. Once the victim cashed the check and handed the money to Bell he drove away.
It was not clear to the victims until later, that the check they cashed was forged. Initial reports were made back in August by several teenagers claiming they were victims of a check forgery scam. Investigators from the Thousand Oaks financial crime unit determined that the person behind the scam was Bell.
Authorities indicated that so far, they have discovered eight people who have been victims of Bell. Many of Bell’s victims are from the city of Thousand Oaks and between the ages of 16 to 21. All other victims were from the city of Los Angeles, Azusa and West Covina.
Bell is being charged with several counts of identity theft, forgery, and unauthorized computer access with fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all special allegations against him. He remains in custody at East County Jail where his bail was set at $250,000.
Any additional victims or anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Detective Paul Ferruzza at 805-494-8231.