A woman police believed was a victim of burglary last week, has now become a suspect of fraud this week. The 48-year-old woman is accused of tricking generous people in Lubbock to give her thousands of dollars in donations that she didn't really deserve.
Just over a week ago, we told you about Rachel Benites. She told us she was very sick and needed help because thieves had stolen just about everything she owned. Tonight, police say the woman lied about being burglarized, and now it appears she's the only thief in this bizarre case.
"I try real hard to stay strong, you know? And, I'm trying not to fall, but it's getting a little bit hard." That's was Benites said last Tuesday after she called KAMC 28 for help. She told us she had come home from a chemo therapy session to find thieves had broken in and ransacked her East Lubbock house. Capt. Greg Stevens with the LPD confirms Benites did file a police report on the burglary. She told officers, burglars had stolen just about everything out of her home ... the TV, the stove, the microwave, even her pots and pans. When folks around Lubbock heard about Benites' loss, many of them came to her rescue. Some gave her home appliances. Others donated money to a fund for her at a local bank. She told us, "It's just wonderful. It let's me know there are still good people."
But, as Benites was enjoying her new found fortune, detectives kept investigating her case. Soon they realized her story didn't add up. Capt. Stevens says, "It did begin to unravel." He says several crimeline tips came in from people who admitted to having Benites' belongings, but they said, she had sold them the items. They didn't steal from her. "She was arrested and charged with filing a false report," Stevens says.
That's a Class B Misdemeanor and Stevens says she'll also eventually face felony charges of theft or fraud. He says this is an unique case, and he's hoping Benites' crime doesn't stop folks in Lubbock from donating to those who really need it in the future. He says, "The frustrating part of a case like this is it would sour people toward making those donations. That's why when detectives realized what had happened here, they immediately pursued a case against her as as suspect rather than a victim."
Now some of Benites' neighbors tell us, she was also lying about going to chemotherapy. They say she is sick, but does not get chemo. If you donated to Benites and are wondering if you'll get your stuff back, police say they really just don't know at this point, but they're working on it.