Manhattan Beach police bust alleged con-artist, “Gia Hendricks”
Maria Christina Johnson, 40, was arrested in Hollywood by Manhattan Beach police detectives at 10 a.m. on Tuesday for alleged identity theft, according to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.
Johnson, who uses the alias, “Gia Hendricks,” faces four counts of both forgery and burglary. Her bail is set at $80,000.
Last month, a Manhattan Beach resident met Johnson at a bar in Hermosa Beach and took her home, said Mike Rosenberger, detective for the Manhattan Beach Police Department. The following morning, after dropping her off, the man noticed that his credit card was missing. A few days later, he discovered charges totaling about $9,000 on his missing card.
Johnson allegedly bought clothing, shoes and jewelry, spending $2,000 at a clothing store, $700 on a bicycle in Hermosa Beach, and purchased bottle service at 12th and Highland in Manhattan Beach. For a $150 bill at the Strand House restaurant, she tipped $100, Rosenberger said.
While on her shopping spree, Johnson had been staying with another woman in Hermosa Beach. The woman, realizing she may have been a victim of Johnson’s, contacted the Manhattan Beach man, Rosenberger said.
Johnson “befriends unsuspecting people, gains their trust and then uses their identity to obtain cash and property,” police said, in a statement.
She’s told people she’s from Miami, is a wealthy socialite, or runs a modeling agency, Rosenberger said. She’s also claimed to be associated with the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Racing Team.
“It’s a challenge when people, like the suspect, seem to have a natural ability to target the more generous and kind persons. People just want to help out with other people, it’s a natural thing,” Rosenberger said. “But you take a risk when you invite a stranger to your house.”
A Google search of “Gia Hendricks” will turn up posts on the website, www.ripoffreport.com. Three threads, dated August 29, Oct. 12 and Nov. 1, warned people of the woman, labeling her a “con-artist,” “a scam” and “a pathological liar” that will “destroy your life.”
“She will scavenge your place for anything she can find: old checks, bank cards, business cards, routing numbers,” someone wrote, adding, “By the time you have figured it out she’s long gone.”
Rosenberger used the site to reach out to victims and help locate Johnson.
Johnson was found staying with a woman in Hollywood who she had met on Craig’s list.
Johnson, who is 5’ 5”, 154 pounds and has a tattoo of the constellation, Orion, on her lower back, also uses the aliases, Gia Hendrick, Maria Hendricks, Maria Johnson, Christina Johnson and Gia Johnson. She was born on May 2, 1971, but also uses the fake birthday, May 2, 1972.
Johnson is wanted for similar offenses in Washington and Oregon. She is a convicted felon, having spent 29 months in prison in Washington for bail jumping, identity theft, forgery and the fraudulent use of checks.
Rosenberger is preparing a report to present the charges to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on Thursday.
Police ask that anyone with information or who may have been a victim of Johnson’s call Rosenberger at 310-802-5127.