Worst Criminal of the Week: Miami Woman Steals From the Desperately Unemployed

See that charming woman pictured below? She may have just orchestrated the cruelest crime yet tied to the Great Recession of 2009.

Miami police say that Illeana Pillarte, a 35-year-old, scammed more than 70 unemployed people into believing she represented Jackson Memorial Hospital and had jobs available.

Last week, Pillarte, who lives at NW 30th Ave. and 11th St., spread word around her struggling neighborhood that the hospital had asked her to screen candidates for a few jobs that had recently opened up, says Officer Jeffrey Giordano, a Miami PD spokesman.

At least 72 unemployed folks lined up outside her house last Monday. Pillarte appeared at the door clad in green nurse's scrubs, and collected $20 from each applicant, telling them to go to Jackson the next day for an ID card.

When streams of would-be applicants were turned away at Jackson on Tuesday, they realized they'd been scammed.

So what's more sad? That Pillarte would be heartless enough to steal twenty bucks from scores of people who obviously need every cent they've got? Or that more than 70 people were desperate enough for work to fall for this crap?

Police think even more people may have been taken in. If you know anyone that paid Pillarte, call the cops at 305-471-TIPS.

As for Pillarte, she faces multiple counts of fraud. It's not her first rumble with the law. Riptide's record search shows she was charged with battery in April and domestic violence in May, though both counts were dropped.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink