Skip to Content

EXCLUSIVE: Detective goes undercover as restaurant owner to halt attempted scam

<i>WPBF</i><br/>Avocado Grill is a popular restaurant in West Palm Beach.
Avocado Grill is a popular restaurant in West Palm Beach.

By Sooji Nam

Click here for updates on this story

    WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (WPBF) — A group of women from South Florida was attempting to scam a popular restaurant in West Palm Beach, when an undercover detective halted their scheme.

Investigators said the group, from Hollywood, was enjoying a meal at Avocado Grill last September, when one of them claimed there was a rock in her salad and had injured her tooth.

West Palm Beach Police documents said the restaurant staff called the owner, who advised them to “offer medical attention, complete an incident report, and obtain their personal information for a follow-up.”

Investigators said a woman who went by the name “Elaine Sanders” was the alleged victim who suffered a tooth injury. Also at the table was a woman who went by “Stacy Wells.”

Throughout the investigation, police soon found out that was a lie. “Elaine Sanders'” real name is actually Ann Miller.

And “Stacy Wells'” real name is Sheila Miller.

Soon after that incident occurred, the women sent Avocado Grill an invoice from a dental office in Coral Gables. They claimed that “Elaine” visited “a dentist office and was given a quote for a dental treatment plan for the tooth repaid that amounted to $8,775.00.”

The restaurant owner thought something was suspicious. He and his team “believed the invoice was fake and part of an insurance scam.”

So, West Palm Beach Police went to the dental office, Coral Dental Care, named on that invoice and spoke with the owner.

The doctor told detectives that “he nor his other dentists provided care to an ‘Elaine Sanders,’ and she is not a past or present patient.”

Soon after, knowing that the women had never met the Avocado Grill restaurant owner themselves, the detective went undercover and disguised himself as the owner.

“Bring these suspects back to the restaurant where they were allegedly going to receive $6,000 in exchange or as payment for the supposed dental treatment,” Mike Jachles, the public information officer with West Palm Beach Police, told WPBF 25 News.

“The lead detective on this case assumed the role of the restaurant owner, greeted the women and met with them at the restaurant,” he added.

WPBF 25 News obtained exclusive body camera video of the arrest of Ann Miller, who again went by the alias “Elaine,” as well as her mother-in-law, Mary Steimberg.

Steimberg tagged along to the meeting at the restaurant. Detectives later discovered that she was also a part of the scheme.

Police said they also asked Ann Miller to show them where she injured her tooth but saw no signs of any damage.

Meanwhile, Sheila Miller was waiting in the car.

Police eventually arrested Sheila Miller as well for allegedly obtaining those fraudulent documents. She has been charged with grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification information.

Ann Miller has been charged with fabrication of documents and grand theft.

Steimberg has been charged with larceny, grand theft and fraud.

Sheila Miller has posted bond on Wednesday morning.

“This is not these women’s first attempt at a ploy like this. So, we’re looking for anybody else that might be a victim to this, to come forward notify the West Palm Beach Police or your local police agency if it’s not from our city,” Jachles said.

To contact the West Palm Beach Police investigator, email or call 561-822-1828.

WPBF 25 News reached out to Avocado Grill for a comment and have not yet heard back.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content