Maria Christina Johnson passed herself off as part of the moneyed elite; she wore designer clothes, threw expensive Hollywood parties and claimed ties to wealthy relatives like Rick Hendrick (of NASCAR racing team fame).
But Johnson, who presented herself as the owner of a glamorous modeling agency, was anything but. In fact, authorities are now saying she is actually just a con woman who used her charm and sex appeal to steal credit cards and identities from dozens of people.
Johnson was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with four counts of forgery and burglary, according to Hermosa Beach Patch. Her criminal activity is so prolific that a quick google search of her name will turn up Ripoff Reports like this one, warning others that Johnson is a "bandit" who "keeps scamming people left and right" all over Los Angeles.
But despite the multitude of victims, Southern California authorities didn't get a break in the case until one young woman decided to come forward. Stephanie Younger, a Lancaster woman who knew Johnson as "Gia Hendricks," was tricked into handover over her bank account information, reports CBS2. "Hendricks" had told Younger she was hiring assistants for her modeling agency, and when Younger was hired for the job, she gave her personal data for payroll purposes. Younger was swindled out of her money, and then her new boss disappeared.
Younger decided to get even. In an interview with CBS2, Stephanie described how she created a fake Facebook account to find and contact her former employer before turning everything over to the police.
Johnson's husband, Chris Hainka, was also one of her victims. The two had married in 2011 after dating for eight months, but the marriage ended after just four months when Hainka discovered she was stealing from him and his friends, reports KTLA. In the video interview, Hainka couldn't help but marvel at the smooth criminal: "I could not believe it, because I'm always like very guarded, you know? So I'm always watching my own back... but to basically have a girl come in and play you like that -- that's good. I give her props."
Hainka went to the FBI with his story, but investigators had trouble verifying the facts because the couple are still technically married. Johnson is also wanted in Washington and Oregon and she served two years in a Washington prison -- all for similar charges.
Watch KTLA's video report below: