Woman allegedly collected $11k in donations after lying about being married to firefighter battling Holy Fire
A Southern California woman is accused of exploiting the state's devastating Holy Fire last month by posing as a firefighter's wife in an attempt to swindle nearly $11,000 from donors, according to police. Reports state that authorities have now launched an investigation into the case.
The woman, identified as 28-year-old Ashley Bemis, wrote a post on Facebook on a community page, claiming that her husband was a firefighter and was battling the Holy Fire which scorched more than 23,000 acres in Orange and Riverside counties. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Bemis requested donations from the members of the community page in her husbands's honor.
Bemis allegedly wrote on the page: "My Shane works for Cal Fire and is out on the Holy Fire right now. 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.’ I wanted to put it out there to everyone and say I will happily meet you and pick up any donation to the firefighters and first responders that are on the front lines right now," the post read according to KABC. Reports state that the Facebook page has since been deleted.
Shortly after her Facebook post, the sheriffs got a search warrant and combed Bemis' apartment and garage. They reprotedly found over $11,000 in cash and gifts, which were allegedly scammed out of her unassuming neighbors.
According to a search warrant obtained by the Orange County sheriff, the officials said that they were tipped off by suspicious social media users who claimed that Bemis has a "long history" of misrepresenting herself to "obtain free items from caring people by making them feel sorry for her."
The documents said: "Once she received those items, she turned around and sold those items to make a profit from them. The postings referred to Ashley as a scammer. In less than a week, the donations sites all stopped taking items for Ashley because of the alleged fraud," ABC News reported.
One of the investigators in the case said that he spoke to Cal Fire Captain Tin Brady who said that she did not find any record of a firefighter named Shane Goodman in California or anywhere in the United States.
Brady said that the list of items Bemis had written in her post for the firegfighters' aid were things the they would "never use." She also added that the firefighters battling the Holy Fire had "everything they needed" and slept in hotels. She also added that firefighters do not take bath using bottled water as claimed by Bemis in her Facebook posts.
Reports state that no charges have been filed against Bemis in the case.