A Southern California woman is being investigated for allegedly trying to scam people into giving her thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts she claimed would be distributed to firefighters battling a series of blazes.
Ashley Bemis, a 28-year-old from San Clemente, hasn’t been charged, but investigators said she pretended she was married to a firefighter named Shane Goodman in order to receive $11,000 worth of donations in cash and gifts, including blankets, socks and food, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Problem was, Goodman didn’t exist, even though Bemis made it seem as if he did on social media, according to “Inside Edition.”
During one blaze, she posted on Facebook, “I received a text today from Shane saying it’s pretty much a living hell out there.”
After an Aug. 10 appeal from her on Facebook for supplies, people generously sent her blankets, food, air mattresses and other items. Police said she then sold some of the gifts.
Authorities said they got wise to Bemis’ alleged scam after a Cal Fire employee got suspicious and checked the name Shane Goodman in an internal database.
The employee then discovered no such firefighter exists.
Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, told the Times that investigators have since interviewed Bemis, as well as several people who donated to her.
It seems there’s more than one fire near this smoke.
“We’ve also collected some evidence related to past scams including some possible faked pregnancies and baby showers,” Braun said.
Shannon Crowley, who said she knew Bemis in high school, told “Inside Edition” that her former classmate faked a pregnancy during her school years.
“When she came to school and said that she was pregnant, there was a lot of suspicion, but she played it up very, very well that enough people believed it [and] threw her a baby shower,” Crowley said. “Then the deceit came out.”
Authorities urge anyone who donated to Bemis to contact investigators.
Bemis has not been arrested or charged yet, but Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Michael Peters told KABC that the information about her past suggests this isn’t her first rodeo.
“That background gives us a good indication that she has a pattern and this is part of that pattern,” he said.