Photo: Ashley Bemis
A fictitious firefighter–husband and a fake Southern California wildfire fundraiser have landed a San Juan Capistrano woman in jail. Ashley Bemis, aged 28, was arrested on December 18th, 2018, being charged with felony grand theft, second-degree burglary, witness intimidation and making false financial statements.
On the basis of raising funds and collecting goods to help her nonexistent husband and his fellow firefighting colleagues in their combat of the August 2018 Holy Fire blaze in Orange and Riverside counties, Bemis created various social media posts to solicit donations.
On these posts, she asked for cash and for items that she said would benefit the firefighters, such as socks, sports drinks, water and camping equipment. The posts included photos of Bemis and a man whom she identified as her husband.
Numerous individuals, shops and companies in the San Clemente and the surrounding area gave of their money and other resources to Bemis’ deceitful fundraiser; she collected more than $2000 in donations, of both cash and items.
The wildfire ultimately burnt more than 23 000 acres in the Cleveland National Forest and destroyed 18 structures.
When a captain with a Southern California fire department became suspicious of Bemis’ solicitations, he contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to investigate.
Interviews that investigators conducted with the unsuspecting donors allowed for information enough to obtain search warrants for the Bemis’ vehicle, garages and residence. In these locations, they found items consistent with those that Bemis had requested as donations for the Holy Fire situation.
San Clemente Police Services investigators suspected also that Bemis had created the fictitious husband with the intention of soliciting donations to defraud victims.
Social media posts from community members informed the investigators of past fraudulent activity by Bemis, including numerous faked pregnancies in previous attempts to illegally obtain money from innocent victims.
The San Clemente police investigators conducted a thorough investigation of the situation and received an arrest warrant for Bemis. Upon her December 18 arrest, she was booked into the Orange County Jail, where she was being held on $50 000 bail.
So Cal fraudster burnt in Holy Fire ploy was last modified: January 2nd, 2019 by