A Cleveland woman wanted by authorities for using Facebook to defraud hundreds of new mothers out of $200,000 is also under investigation for housing fraud.
Cleveland 19's investigative team has learned the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department is now investigating Zienup Sbeih-Maddox, 23, who lives in public housing in Cleveland.
Sbeih-Maddox is currently wanted by the Cleveland Division of Police and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for grand theft and telecommunications fraud. CMHA Communications Director Cortney Crockett has confirmed to Cleveland 19 that the Cleveland Police Department's investigation into Sbeih-Maddox's Facebook scam sparked the CMHA Police Department's housing fraud investigation.
Sbeih-Maddox lives in an a two-bedroom unit at the Villages of Carver Park, a CMHA housing complex at East 40th and Quincy Avenue in Cleveland. CMHA provides housing to low income individuals and families. To qualify for public housing, residents have to meet certain income guidelines.
Crockett says CMHA is looking into the amount of money Sbeih-Maddox made as a result of her Facebook scam.
Court documents state Sbeih-Maddox is suspected of stealing approximately $189,000 from more than 150 victims. According to CMHA's website, the average annual income of public housing residents is $7,000.
Crockett also tells Cleveland 19 CMHA investigators are taking a look at Sbeih-Maddox's recent child custody case to see if that plays a factor in her eligibility to receive public housing.
Records from the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court show she lost permanent custody of her daughter earlier this year after admitting to charges of abuse and neglect. Prior to the permanent custody order, the child had been out of her mother's care and living with a relative for almost a year.
Cleveland 19 recently spoke with Sbeih-Maddox's sister, who was awarded permanent custody of the child. The woman, who has not been implicated in any wrongdoing and is cooperating with authorities, says she last saw her sister about a week ago, when Sbeih-Maddox came to her home to visit her daughter.
Sbeih-Maddox's sister said the visit took place before a warrant was issued for her arrest on July 28.
Cleveland 19 first exposed Sbeih-Maddox and her alleged scheme in an investigative report back in May. Sbeih-Maddox ran a Facebook group for moms called "Zee's Place," where she sold heavily discounted baby essentials, such as diapers, formula and car seats. She also sold big ticket items to members of the Facebook group, including everything from TVs and iPhones to motorcycles and Disney cruises.
Hundreds of people across the U.S. and Canada said they ordered goods from Sbeih-Maddox, but claim their purchases never got delivered and Sbeih-Maddox has ignored their requests for refunds.
CMHA police officers were present at Sbeih-Maddox's home in June when investigators with Cleveland Police and BCI searched the residence in connection with their joint investigation into the Facebook scam. Most of the evidence removed from the Quincy Avenue home were new toys and baby items.
Despite being under investigation by local and state law enforcement, Cleveland 19's investigative team found Sbeih-Maddox was continuing to sell goods online.
Sbeih-Maddox is not currently in police custody.
Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact Cleveland Police at 216-621-1234. Anonymous tips can be phoned in to Crime Stoppers at 216-252-7463 or via text message. Text TIP657 plus your message to Crimes (274637). Tips can also be called into the BCI tip line at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).
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