A local charity that helps gather gifts for homeless in the Sacramento area has fallen victim to a scam that could leave them without gifts this holiday season.
Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center was targeted in a hoax that stands to leave 26 homeless families without gifts this holiday. The families, who are from the Mather Community Campus and Omega Project, were adopted by what the organization assumes to be a local scam artist.
Joe Ramos, a community partnership coordinator, noted some of those families reside in parts of Rosemont and Elk Grove.
The hoax was perpetrated by a woman living in Auburn, said Ramos. The woman claimed she would provide $3,000 to each of the 26 families, he said.
"There’s a part of me that goes, this is unbelievable; this person isn’t going to come through," Ramos said.
But he said he tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. That was until he started to receive increasingly strange emails from the woman.
Finally when it came down to actually making the donations, when pressed, Ramos explained the woman became aggitated, even insulted, telling Ramos she had decided not to make the donations.
"We did our internal vetting and started thinking this person wasn’t going to follow through," Ramos said. "We found this individual has been going back as far as 2005, getting involved with other organizations doing something similar and leaving them out to dry."
Ramos explains he has no idea what he could've done differently, except that the experience has left him somewhat more discerning when it comes to soliciting donations in the future.
"I always get worried when I get a 'thank you for your donation' email [from someone who has just contributed], because I always think it might be her," he said. "I think with our common donors and supporters, that’s important to establish that rapport."
For now, the hoax has left a gaping hole in donations and a quickly closing window for opportunity.
"I haven’t had a chance to see what we have," Ramos said. "I should know by the night. I think we’ll get there. It’ll depend on timing."
Anyone wishing to assist in helping can call Ramos at 916-496-6426, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about the families is available on the Making Miracles website.