Woman accused of faking firefighter husband to get donations
A California woman is accused of lying about the existence of a firefighter husband to get donations to help crews battle record-breaking wildfires, according to reports.
Ashley Bemis, of San Clemente, allegedly scammed good Samaritans out of $11,000 worth of cash and gift donations in an elaborate scheme on social media, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 28-year-old woman reportedly posted Aug. 10 to a Facebook page claiming that she was married to firefighter named Shane Goodman, who she said works for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“Shane works for Cal Fire and is out on the Holy Fire right now,” Bemis wrote in a since-deleted post, according to the Orange County Register. “I also have two other family members and many friends out on this fire and other fires burning here in California. I received a text today from Shane saying it’s pretty much a living hell out there battling the unpredictable ‘Holy Hell Fire.’”
She then asked for help and provided a list of suggested donations such as air mattresses, baby wipes and blankets.
Suspicions arose, however, when another Cal Fire employee searched an internal database and could not find anyone listed under the name Shane Goodman.
No charges have been filed against Bemis, but the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said it opened an investigation Aug. 17 into the alleged scam.
“Our investigators have worked diligently to put this case together, and it’s because they saw this was a well-planned, well-organized, well-executed fraud of people donating out of the good of their hearts,” sheriff’s department spokeswoman Carrie Braun told the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities are urging anyone who donated to Bemis to contact investigators.
“We’re hoping the community will do a good job of coming forward for us so we’re able to present the best case possible [to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office] to hold this individual accountable for her actions,” Braun said.
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