Woman Arrested in Sandy Hook Shooting Donation Scam
If you're like me, you were probably disturbed to hear today of the arrest of a Bronx woman, charged with impersonating a member of the Pozner family, who lost their 6-year-old son Noah in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. The FBI is alleging that Nouel Alba, 37, set up a Facebook page and used texts and phone calls to solicit donations for a "funeral fund" for Noah, posing as his aunt.
Noah was part of the extended social media family; his actual aunt, Victoria Haller, is a blogger who has been active on Twitter to raise funds on Noah's behalf.
NEWTOWN, Dec. 21, 2012 People light candles at a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Connecticut. Dec. 20, 2012. Image: © Zhang Chuanshi/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com.
The FBI has been investigating fraudulent scams in relation to the Sandy Hook shooting. When agents recently spoke to the suspect, Alba denied being involved. She did the same to reporters for AC360, and the TODAY Show last week.
I met Victoria for the first time at BlogHer '09, when we had a blast hanging out at a cocktail party. I was devastated to hear about Noah's loss. I found out via tweets on the day of the shooting from Victoria's Twitter account, @VDog.
All day, I followed the news with horror, and her Twitter feed with sadness, as she tried to find out the fates of her nieces and nephew.
Like so many others, when I heard what happened to Noah, I sent condolences and donated money in Noah's memory via PayPal.
Little did I know that the Pozner family's name was reportedly being used by a scammer just a few hours after the shooting. Alba is currently out on $50,000 bail; she faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
In response to the arrest, Victoria tweeted a link to the legitimate Noah Pozner website, which includes a list of all the Pozner family sanctioned fundraising in Noah's name. She also posted a consolidated list of all authenticated fundraising on her blog.
Meawhile, the Pozner family and the rest of the Sandy Hook school community are still in mourning, and surely will be for a long time to come. To think that unscrupulous opportunists would take advantage of that grief to make a buck is enough to make me despair for the human race.
But then I read something like BlogHer JuJuLaw's lovely tribute to Noah, and I remember that the people with good in their hearts outnumber the opportunists by quite a lot.