SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — A Sioux City woman has been accused of tricking a mother into paying more than $10,000 by faking an Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) investigation.  

Anna Perez-Joaquin, 39, of Sioux City, was charged with first-degree theft, ongoing criminal conduct, and extortion on Wednesday after she allegedly convinced a woman that DHS had an open investigation on her and her two children.

The documents indicated that Perez-Joaquin convinced the woman into believing she need to give temporary custody of her two children to Perez-Joaquin in August.

Perez-Joaquin told the woman if she didn’t give up custody or pay money, she would be charged with aggravated assault to a juvenile and two counts of kidnapping. Documents also stated Perez-Joaquin used a fake lawyer email to convince the woman into paying $400 a month in child support.  

According to the court documents, the woman gave Perez-Joaquin child support payments, child-tax credit checks, and a monthly death benefit over the course of four months.  The payments were made by cash and bank transfers at least 16 times.

The documents also indicated that Perez-Joaquin had others impersonate social workers to visit to the mother’s home and initiate plans to take the children to Mexico.  

The mother paid Perez-Joaquin a total of $11,874 by the time the scheme was discovered.  

Community Policing Sergeant Jeremy McClure said Perez-Joaquin met with the mother through classes they were taking together.

McClure also said Perez-Joaquin was not charged with kidnapping because the incident didn’t meet the definition of kidnapping. In order to meet the definition, the mother wouldn’t know the location of the children. Convincing the mother to give up custody of the children falls under the extortion charge.

Perez-Joaquin was booked into the Woodbury County Jail on a $25,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for January 10, 2021.