Michael Rodriguez, a tall and wiry 18-year-old with a waterfall of brown curls, answered the phone at Cash-a-Check at Biscayne Boulevard and 137th Street around 4 p.m. this past June 6. A co-worker was on the other line, according to a North Miami Beach Police report. The boss's wife, Martha Seas, needed some cash, she said.
A few minutes later, the phone rang again. The caller introduced herself as Seas. "How much money is there in the vault?" she asked, according to the cops.
"About $15,000," he said.
"I'm showing there's more," she replied.
Indeed, when Rodriguez checked, there was more. A lot more.
The caller politely instructed the teen to take out $26,000 and hand it to a broker, who would be in shortly. The gentleman would recite a secret number code: 1203.
"I was like, 'Are you sure I don't have to call my manager?'" Rodriguez says. "She told me: 'No, I already spoke to her.'"
So he filled a black bag with several stacks of crisp $100 bills. Within half an hour, a short man wearing a fedora and a gray pinstripe suit strolled into the store, shaking his umbrella. He recited the code, and Rodriguez handed over the loot.
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But once the dapper fellow was out the door, Rodriguez got a bad feeling. He called a manager, who "started screaming and went crazy," he says. Nobody was scheduled to pick up that much cash, she told him.
Rodriguez then called the police. They weren't particularly supportive. "Cops made me feel dumb. They were like, 'You just gave away a bag of money?'"
The case is still open, according to North Miami Beach Police Det. Denise Love. Nobody has been charged.
Adds Rodriguez: "They were so smart and slick... It's like one of those movies."