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FBI suspects ‘Questions’ bandits in Friday robbery

Bank of America is offering a reward for information leading to arrest.

April 05, 2010|By Joseph Serna

Friday’s take-over robbery of a Newport Beach bank may be the work of the “20 Questions Bandits,” a group of armed men who’ve robbed half a dozen other banks in Southern California since last year, FBI officials said Monday.

About 5:48 p.m. Friday, two armed men in dark clothes and ski masks entered the Bank of America branch at 1016 Irvine Ave. They ordered everyone inside to get on the ground, hopped the teller counter and demanded money from some of the bank tellers, said Newport Beach Police Lt. Craig Fox.

After getting a hold of the cash the men left the bank and fled in a black Chevrolet Tahoe parked on the building’s east side, Fox said. The Tahoe, which was reported stolen out of Culver City, was found nearby on Rutland Road.

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FBI officials said the robbery looks like the work of the 20 Questions Bandits, a group of up to four men who’ve robbed banks in Ventura, Oxnard, El Monte, Thousand Oaks and Westminster.

The men were dubbed the 20 Questions Bandits because during their first heists they asked several questions, FBI officials said. In some of the instances, the men have assaulted bank employees and robbed bank customers of personal belongings authorities said.

No one was injured during Friday’s robbery, police said.

This is the seventh robbery linked to the group. Bank of America is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the robbers’ arrests.

Anyone with information about the suspects can call 9-1-1 or the FBI at (888) CANT HIDE or (888) 226-8443 or the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department at (800)222-TIPS.


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