California woman swindled Camp Fire survivor, 75, out of $60G life insurance, police say

A California woman was arrested following a months-long search Tuesday after she allegedly embezzled $63,100 from a 75-year-old survivor of last year’s Camp Fire – the deadliest and most destructive blaze in state history.

Brenda Rose Asbury, 29, swindled the unnamed victim out of money obtained from an insurance policy after the victim lost their home in the fire, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

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The Camp Fire burned across more than 150,000 acres in California in 2018, destroying 13,972 residences, 528 commercial and 4,293 other buildings. The nation's deadliest wildfire in the past century killed at least 84 people.

The burned remains of a home destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in November 2018. Since last year, only a handful of homes have been rebuilt in the community that lost nearly 9,000 residences in the wildfire. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The burned remains of a home destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in November 2018. Since last year, only a handful of homes have been rebuilt in the community that lost nearly 9,000 residences in the wildfire. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The investigation into Asbury began in July, authorities said, without elaborating on how they came to suspect the 29-year-old. In September, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Asbury and spent over a month trying to track her down.

Detectives determined Asbury was staying in Tulsa, Okla., and, with the help of local police, were able to contact her through a lawyer she had retained, authorities said. She was ordered to immediately contact police. Asbury showed up at the Butte County Sheriff’s Office three days later, claiming to have had to drive from Oklahoma.

Detectives said they searched over a month before they located Asbury in Tulsa.

Detectives said they searched over a month before they located Asbury in Tulsa. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)

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Asbury was charged with elder abuse, embezzlement and grand theft. She is expected to be arraigned on Thursday in the Butte County Superior Court.

Bad actors usually attempt to take advantage of victims during disasters, like wildfires, officials warn. As recent as last week, when firefighters battled a massive wildfire in Northern California, officials warned residents to be aware of “fake firefighters” looking to loot homes and businesses.

Fox News' Travis Fedschun and Liam Quinn contributed to this report.