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FBI: Woman Posed as Relative of Sandy Hook Victim to Solicit Money

The woman, from the Bronx, NY, reportedly lied to authorities who are investigating fundraising fraud in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

In what authorities are calling an "unconscionable" act, a 37-year-old Bronx woman was arrested today on allegations that she pretended to be a relative of a victim of the Sandy Hook School shooting in an attempt to solicit money.

According to a press release just issued by David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nouel Alba was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging her with lying to FBI agents in connection with their investigation into a fraudulent fundraising scheme related to the Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting.

The complaint alleges that Alba used her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to falsely claim to be a relative of a shooting victim, and solicited money from people who wanted to donate, claiming the money was for the child’s “funeral fund,” the release states. 

At Alba’s instruction, authorities said, donor-victims sent money to a PayPal account controlled and accessed by her. When contacted by FBI Special Agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown tragedy, Alba falsely stated that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, solicit donations or recently access her PayPal account, according to the release. 

Alba also falsely claimed to have immediately refunded any donations that she received, authorities said.

“This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone who attempts to profit from this tragedy by contriving fraudulent schemes that exploit the many victims, their families and individuals who sincerely want to help,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and the individuals operating them face federal or state prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

“It is unconscionable to think that the families of the victims in Newtown, and a sympathetic community looking to provide them some sort of financial support and comfort, have become the targets of criminals,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “Today's arrest is a stern message that the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who perpetrate Internet fund raising scams, especially those scams that exploit the most vulnerable in their time of shared sorrow.”

Following her arrest, Alba appeared before United States Magistrate Thomas P. Smith in Hartford and was released on a $50,000 bond. If convicted of making false statements to federal agents, Alba faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S.

Fein stressed that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Individuals with knowledge of Newtown-related fundraising schemes are encouraged to contact the FBI in Connecticut at 203-777-6311. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Francis.

Wendy Kelly December 27, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Such a shame this story makes you very leary donating. I recently donated on behalf of someone as a Christmas gift. Hopefully it wasn't a scam or maybe it was hate to see people struggling with health issues and expenses.
Heron December 28, 2012 at 05:03 PM
This is possibly an ignorant comment but, in the case of the Sandy Hook shootings, I'm not clear about how donating money to the families helps. They have suffered an unimaginable loss, but doesn't it make more sense to donate money to political causes that support banning automatic weapons? (Or other political causes that may help the issue, depending on your viewpoint.)
James Wilson January 03, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Sadly, there will come a time when a permenant memorial will be designed and constructed. Sadly again, there will opposition from those around our nation who will not want any religious symbols within the memorial. That money may come in very handy to fight the court cases that will, without a doubt, arise against a cross and a star of David. There is a national organization whose work I have seriously followed for many years. They are Focus Adolescent Services, www.Focusas.com/ They are rebuilding their massive and helpful web site with a helping state by state directory of help.They also have a free national helpline for parents and professionals with children who need help and do not know where to turn. I like them for many reasons. They have no way of knowing how many children they have saved from self destruction or from destroying others over the years. I feel they stand strong and true in their Mission. I was told that their average caller is not as one would think; "the inner city," but rather our middle class to our upper-class in the socio economic sense.
James Wilson January 03, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Heron, I feel that your question is a very good one that needs to be asked and discussed. There is nothing "ignorant" about it that I can see. In my life I have always told children especially that there are no "stupid" questions; that ignorance pervades when questions are never asked. I think a lot of good hearted Americans; and we are known around the world as the most giving of all people when crisis and tragedy hits. We may wonder sometimes, but we are a loving people who give more to save animals other than humans than other people around the world give to save the two legged animals. I feel the outpouring of money to the families was in most all cases not needed at all as these are fairly well-to-do folks. However, if the giving made the giver feel better that is a blessed reason for giving. I have not been able to find how much has been donated in all

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