Scammers use city official signatures to approve permits

Created: 03/16/2014 11:29 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It is a scam that police say involved forging the signatures of city officials and duping business owners out of thousands of dollars. 

Now a couple who owns a local sign company is facing federal charges.

Ask any business owner in New Mexico and they will tell you how important a sign is.

“It’s kind of like your trade mark for your business,” said Eddie Garcia is The General Manager at Garcia's Kitchen.

“People see that sign when they pull into our parking lot,” Garcia said. “Then they say oh we're here at Garcia's.”

Their sign on Central is one of many Carrillo Signs is working on.

A replica is being made of the well-known route 66 Garcia’s Café sign, but Garcia now has his doubts about the work getting done.

The owners, Christopher and Leslie Carrillo were in court Sunday.

They are accused of forgery, fraud and conspiracy.

Investigators say the couple took several thousand dollars from business owners across the metro including The Shade Tree and Metro PCS. Then they forged signatures of city planners, to trick their clients into thinking the signs were legal to go up.

In these records KOB Eyewitness News 4 found seven more companies that filed suit against Carrillo Signs for breach of contract in the past eight years.

Anyone can see a business' reputation by simply looking them up on the Better Business Bureau's website.

One quick search on Carrillo Signs and KOB Eyewitness News 4 found the BBB gave the company a failing grade and several complaints about fake permits.

When Garcia read the criminal complaint he was in disbelief.

“It’s very surprising,” he said. “Chris (Carrillo) is always eager to please.”

Garcia says they have been working with this company for the past ten years and never had issues, but the current work is overdue.

“Like pop said, keep your front yard clean, take care of your back yard, and you'll be OK,” he said.

With an already delayed project Garcia worries how these criminal allegations will effect getting his new sign in the air.

City planning officials told investigators business owners do not have to pay for a sign-permit until it is approved.

As of publish time, calls and emails to Carrillo Signs were not returned.

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