A woman who stiffed a kind-hearted Lyndhurst salon owner out of more than $600 by claiming that she had to go to her car to get her debit card was in the middle of a spree of cons, said police who caught her.
Christina Riccardelli, 22 of Howell Township, gave detectives a full confession, they said – and then smiled for her mugshot.
It began on Dec. 4, when Riccardelli told the owner of Hilights Salon on Ridge Road in Lyndhurst, Tricia DiFranco, that she was “desperate” to have her hair colored for her birthday.
“Six hours & 30 ounces of color [later], she was so so happy,” said DiFranco, whose shift was supposed to end when Riccardelli walked in.
The previously negotiated bill was $632.72, including tax, according to a police report.
When the PayPal card that Riccardelli tried to use was declined, “she said, ‘Let me run out to my car and get my debit card’,” DiFranco said.
Then she was gone.
“Not only did I waste time on this person that was not going pay,” the owner said. “I spent a lot of money on color and a lot of hard work.”
They very next day, Riccardelli tried to buy gas with a bogus credit card at a Riverside Avenue service station in town, Detective Sgt. Vincent Auteri said.
The day after that, he said, she used a bogus card to make a $42 purchase at a mini-mart at a Ridge Road gas station.
“The descriptions all matched” in the three crimes, Auteri said.
Alerts were sent to other area law enforcement – and it turned out that Wayne police were looking for Riccardelli for a similar crime.
After identifying her, Lyndhurst police tried contacting Riccardelli, who apparently had been “bouncing back and forth” between her parents’ home in Howell and a residence in Clifton, with no luck, the sergeant said.
Wayne police eventually got hold of her and convinced Riccardelli to turn herself in.
Once they were finished charging her late Thursday into Friday, Lyndhurst detectives charged her with theft of services and unlawful use of a credit card.
She was released pending court hearings in both towns – although more charges could follow.
Police were investigating allegations that she’d pulled similar scams in as many as 19 other towns, as well.
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