Deputies: Florida woman impersonated judge, scammed neighbor out of thousands

DELTONA, Fla. – A Deltona woman is accused of impersonating a local circuit judge in an effort to scam her neighbor out of thousands of dollars, deputies said Friday.

Angelique Cribb, 43, was charged Thursday on a warrant signed by Circuit Judge James R. Clayton — the same judge Cribb is accused of impersonating — in a series of threatening text messages to her victim, a 71-year-old Deltona woman, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim, Helen Helgestad, went to the Sheriff’s Office in July to report the scam, according to CFN13 News. Helgestad said that since 2010, she loaned Cribb and another neighbor hundreds of thousands of dollars. Helgestad said the pair still owed her $308,000, and when she refused to loan any more money, Cribb started breaking things in Helgestad’s house, according to a news release.

Helgestad said Cribb eventually came up with a new way to get her money: Cribb began insisting she needed money for legal bills to keep Helgestad’s daughter out of jail.

Helgestad started to receive text messages from Cribb’s phone that referenced Clayton, Judge Raul Zambrano and Judge Dawn Nichols. Cribb claimed she was working with Nichols to collect a large lottery payout, and several thousand dollars in fees were needed to make it happen, deputies said.

Cribb also claimed she had been meeting with Clayton and that there was a warrant for Helgestad’s daughter’s arrest. Helgestad received texts from Cribb’s phone claiming to be Clayton, warning her of dire legal consequences if she didn’t send along more money.

“You seem to think you can get away with this, but let me tell you (that) you cannot. Telling other people and calling the court house will only cause you more problems than you ever know,” a text message read.

Investigators found more than 1,000 texts between Cribb and Helgestad from May to July. Most involved payment requests that Helgestad believed to be coming from one of the judges.

Cribb was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail, where she remained Friday morning on $10,000 bond, deputies said.