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| Crime |

Teenage Employee Duped in $26,000 Heist

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It's safe to say: When there's a big black bag of cash, a decent story almost always follows. Just ask airport novelists. Or Robert De Niro, back when he was in good movies.

But as 18-year-old teller Michael Rodriguez learned a couple of rainy Saturdays ago, that stuff's best saved for the glitz of fiction.

June 6 was a slow day at Cash-a-Check on Biscayne Boulevard and 137th Street. Rodriguez -- a one-year employee with a waterfall of brown curls -- answered the phone around 4 p.m. A co-worker was on the other line. She informed the naive teenager he would need to fork over some cash for the boss's wife Martha Seas, according to a North Miami Beach Police report. The Mrs. would call in few minutes, the coworker explained.

The phone rang again. A voice introduced herself as Seas and "asked him how much money there was in the vault," the police report states. Then she politely instructed the boy to take out $26,000, and hand it to a broker, who would be in shortly. No need to worry, she told him, 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 stack by stack, he filled a black bag with 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 spouted off the code, and Rodriguez handed over the loot. 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 cops. He says: "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 Det. Denise Love. Nobody has been charged. (Fleurelus could not be reached at the company for comment. Her phone number was unlisted.)

Adds Rodriguez: "They were so smart and slick... It's like one of those movies."

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