PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Ms. Hollywood doesn’t know investing, but she apparently gets human nature.
Providence resident Zaria Harrell, who goes by “Zaria the Model” on Facebook, calls herself “future millionaire” on Instagram, and uses “Ms. Hollywood” and an unprintable salacious handle on Snapchat, found a way to monetize followers from all over the country, according to an investigation by state police.
The deal, state police found: Wire her $100, and she’ll send you back $1,000. Send her $150, and you’ll get $1,500. Whatever you send, she’d send 10 times back.
The reality: The only people making money were Harrell and a local ex-con, Isaiah Pinkerton, who joined her in picking up the money from Western Union sites in North Providence and Providence, according to the state police.
Amid monotonous Facebook Live videos and provocative photos of her posing holding stacks of money, her Facebook posts include this one: “Interested in making $1000 or better today message me canbe [sic] located anywhere.”
And people did. By the time state police began searching her money-wire records, Harrell had collected a total of $22,907 from 148 people living in 29 states since last September, according to an affidavit for her arrest.
“It’s so EASYYYYY to get money ! just put ur Mind to it trust me,” Harrell posted on Facebook at one point. The 19-year-old woman may well have been speaking for herself, because state police allege that Harrell wasn’t giving any money back.
Cranston Detective Lee Sohn was investigating Harrell on an unrelated case earlier this year when he discovered her social media posts soliciting her followers. He contacted the state police financial crimes unit in August, and they soon found women in Newport and Providence who alleged they’d been scammed by Harrell’s “quick money” scheme.
State Police Detective Conor O’Donnell ended up speaking with 113 people from all over the country who had the same story. “Zaria Harrell scammed people from all walks of life: Single mothers and fathers, the homeless, active duty military members and people down on their luck,” he wrote in an affidavit.
Harrell, of 145 Camden Ave., was arrested on Sept. 1 and charged with access to a computer for fraudulent purposes, obtaining money under false pretenses, felony and misdemeanor conspiracy. She was released on surety bail, but is also facing felony charges in an unrelated gun case. (She did not have an attorney on record by Friday.)
This week, state police arrested Pinkerton, 20, of 239 Magnolia St., Apt. 2, on the same charges. He was arraigned at District Court, Providence, and held as a probation violator.
With reports from staff writer Kate Bramson.
On Twitter: @AmandaMilkovits