Nanny Scam


Scams that target parents

The scammer pretends to be a nanny in order to con parents out of a large deposit, or to steal money and valuables from their home.

Mariana Monticalvo aka Mari Maestas is a con artist who has been scamming both parents and nannies all over the Bay Area since at least 1986. According to a 2004 article in the SF Chronicle, Mariana Monticalvo's aliases include Darlene Mariana Maestas, Darlene M. Penney, Darlene Nettles, Mariana Haddad-Garcia, Marina Haddad and Mariana Garcia. She has also used the names and credentials of other nannies in the community to get jobs.

She has created fake personas so she can recommend herself,  using these names: Amanda Adams, Lisa Freeman, Emily Katz, Elle Cacciapaglia.

She has used these email addresses on BPN: marinikmas [at] yahoo.commarinikmas1 [at] gmail.com, marinikmas [at] icloud.com, lisa.freeman1 [at] yahoo.com, emilylynnkatz [at] yahoo.com, ellecacciapaglia [at] gmail.com

... and these phone numbers: 510 829-6996 and 510 495-0285

Mariana has also contacted people who were looking for a housekeeper, recommending Mariana.

In Feb-Mar 2022, Mariana subscribed to BPN under 6 different accounts, pretending to be a parent and using slightly different names, emails, and ages of children on each account. This allowed her to access posts from parents who were looking for a nanny and then send them messages, signing as "Mari".

In March 2022, a parent told us that a nanny was sending them messages signed "Mari" that appeared to be spam. We investigated and found the messages had been sent from a recent parent subscription under the name "Maes" (marinikmas1 [at] gmail.com). That account sent dozens of identical messages offering nanny services to parents who'd posted recently looking for a nanny.  We disabled the account and notified the 40 parents she had contacted that it might be a scam.  Several parents wrote to BPN and provided more information about their dealings with Mari, including photos taken by their security cameras, and told us they were filing police reports. We have summarized some of their comments on How Parents Can Avoid a Nanny Scam

One parent said they had become suspicious when Mari asked for a deposit of several thousand dollars, so they researched her online and found the news media articles listed below. The parent told BPN that the nanny they interviewed is the same person pictured in these articles.

The articles are from May 2019 about the arrest of Mariana Monticalvo. At the time, she already had 22 prior felony convictions for grand theft, burglary, forgery, and identity theft going back to 1986.  The articles describe how she was stealing cash and valuables from clients who hired her, demanding a large deposit and then disappearing, leaving a baby to cry in its crib for extended periods, and also posing as a parent to trick other nannies into giving her their IDs and references, which she then used to get nanny jobs. 

Less than 24 hours after we disabled Mari's second account, she subscribed a third time as a parent using the name "Mari" and the email marinikmas [at] icloud.com. We believe that 3 later parent subscriptions under other names were also Mari.

Please see How to Avoid a Nanny Scam for tips and red flags. 


Scams that target nannies 

There are two types of scams we've seen that target nannies:

  1. Check overpayment scam. The scammer, pretending to be a parent, pays the nanny a large sum in advance with a check that will later bounce, and tricks the nanny into refunding all or part of it.  View email examples

  2. Identity theft. The scammer, pretending to be a parent, obtains the nanny's IDs and references in order to impersonate the nanny and scam parents.

Check overpayment scam

This scam tricks nannies into accepting a cashiers check that is larger than the fee they expected. They are asked to refund part of it once the check clears their bank. The nanny's bank does accept the check, but it will later bounce.  See About Check Overpayment Scams for more information about this scam, which is very common on all online sites where financial agreements take place, such as craigslist.

Red flag:

  • A parent wants to pay you before meeting you in person.  They may say they are relocating, or temporarily out of town, or they can't meet for some other reason. This is always a scam. Their check will eventually bounce and you will be tricked out of money. 

During August-September 2021, we discovered that about 20 nannies who subscribe to BPN received emails from a scammer who had pretended to be a parent and subscribed to BPN. The scammer sent emails to nannies and students who had recently posted about their availability as babysitters and household assistants. This had happened once before, in 2017. 

Here are some of the names scammers have used on BPN: Victoria Smith, Tina Craver, Faith Evans.  These names have been used with various email addresses such as mumrobyn38 [at] gmail.comtinacrawson00 [at] yahoo.comfaithevans360 [at] gmail.com, and Danny1244k [at] gmail.com  


Identity Theft

The nanny Mariana Monticalvo who conned parents as described above was also convicted of identity theft. News articles from 2019 (see above) described how she pretended to be a parent, interviewed nannies, and then used their names, references and ID numbers to impersonate them to get more nanny jobs for herself.  This enabled her to provide references when lining up new families to scam and avoid the problem of having to reveal her past convictions. A 2004 article in the SF Chronicle quoted a nanny this happened to: "Marianne Monticalvo ruined my good name," the nanny with nearly 20 years' experience claimed. "First, she stole my name, then she used my good reputation to steal from families all over the Bay Area."

Red flag

  • You are looking for a nanny job and a parent asks for your ID numbers or references before meeting you in person.  This could signal a scammer who plans to pretend to be you to get nanny jobs for herself. You are more likely to be targeted if your resume has prized qualities such as a degree, a teaching credential, TrustLine registration, and glowing references.  Don't give out this information until you meet in person with the parent and with their child.

If you discover that someone has used your identity, contact your local police to file a complaint.  Also contact TrustLine and ask them to flag your record to warn parents to ask for a photo ID if they interview someone with your name.