PORT RICHEY — He had a $900-million inheritance waiting for him in Nigeria. All he needed was a couple thousand dollars to get the money here. And in return, he would share $1-million of the inheritance.
That was what Arnold Vallombroso, 53, told at least one elderly victim, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Starting last December, Vallombroso persuaded an 83-year-old woman to give him almost $8,000 in checks and another $5,125 in wire transfers to Nigeria, a Sheriff's Office report said. The Pasco Times is withholding the woman's identity due to the nature of the allegations.
Vallombroso told her three checks were for customs and one check was to book a hotel room for the emissary who would deliver the $900-million, the report said. All the checks were addressed to him.
Vallombroso also took the woman, who said she suffers from osteoporosis and has trouble moving, to a nearby Publix so she could wire money to Nigeria, the report said. It's unclear who received the money or whether Vallombroso is Nigerian.
In return, she said, Vallombroso promised, "I'll make it worth your while a hundred times over." According to the sheriff's report, the woman believed the money would make a good inheritance for her children.
Vallombroso even had her open a credit card account, checking account and safe deposit box — in both of their names, the report said.
In March, Vallombroso, who had been living with his mother at the Shalimar Mobile Home Park, disappeared. Meanwhile, he continued to tell the woman that the people with the inheritance money were in Switzerland waiting to enter the country. The woman became suspicious and contacted authorities.
Pasco investigators on Monday afternoon found Vallombroso at his mother's home at 9033 Shawn Ave. and arrested him.
He was charged with one count of grand theft, and remains in Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Similar scams involving Nigeria have existed for years, according to a Web site for the country's American embassy.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin said Vallombroso may have tried the scam with other victims. Detectives continue to investigate new leads.
"If you have to spend money to get money, it is a scam," he said.
Nomaan Merchant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.