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UPDATE: More victims accuse Columbia woman in utility bill scam

City plans on working with victims on payment

UPDATE More victims accuse Columbia...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - UPDATE 5:45 P.M.: City Spokesman Steve Sapp said that the city plans on working with victims of Garay-Contreras' scam to keep their lights on. Sapp also said that they're still trying to figure out how many people were impacted by the scam, and if you are a victim, to reach out to the utilities department.

Victims have reportedly lost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Many of those victims were disabled or living month-to-month, and feared losing services because of the late payments.

Garay-Contreras is also accused of stealing over a quarter of a million dollars from one Regions Bank account. There is no evidence to suggest that she got help from someone inside of the company, according to a Regions Bank spokesperson.

To contact information of the utilities department call 573-874-7380 or click here.

ORIGINAL STORY: Columbia police arrested Tanya Dawn Garay-Contreras on Tuesday after officers were dispatched to two fraud reports at the Columbia Mall. 

One female victim told officers she saw Garay-Contreras on the news after she had been arrested for stealing from people. 

Police said the victim claimed she was also a victim of Garay-Contreras after she offered to pay the victim's bills for half the price of the bills in cash. 

The victim said Garay-Contreras claimed to be taking donations for less fortunate families. 

The victim told police she gave Garay-Contreras her account numbers for her bills along with approximately $4,500  over the time that Garay-Contreras agreed to pay her bills. 

The victim said Garay-Contreras would send her electronic receipts showing her bills were getting paid.

Police said the victim found out none of her bills were actually paid, facing eviction, and approximately $9,000 in bill debt. 

The second female victim told police she met Garay-Contreras at the Ballanger Liquor store and offered to pay the victim's bills for half the price of the bills in cash. 

Police said Garay-Contreras claimed the bills would be paid through her husband's company and she was also taking donations for families in need. 

The victim told officers she met Garay-Contreras a few times to giver her money for the bills. 

Police said the victim provided her account number for all her bills including Boone Electric, Boone Water, DirectTV and Century Link. 

The victim told officers she gave Garay-Contreras approximately $4,000 overall to pay her bills. 

The victim recently found out that none of her bills were paid and all of her credit cards had been maxed out, police said. 

Garay-Contreras is currently in the Boone County Jail with a bond of $4,500. 


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