July 17, 2013 - 12:16 PM
EDMONTON - A 24-year-old Vernon woman has been arrested for running a fake charity operation in which she swiped credit card information from customers who thought they were donating money to relief efforts in southern Alberta.
Shalayne Whitney Lewis made her first court appearance Monday, charged with four counts of fraud and possession of instruments for forgery. Edmonton police put a warning out last Friday after several people called in to report they'd been scammed out of thousands of dollars by a woman selling Krispy Kreme donuts at an Edmonton mall. They said the booth only accepted credit card or debit.
Police released a photo of the suspect, captured by the mall's surveillance camera. It was with this picture that a good samaritan was able to identify Lewis selling donuts at a west-end Edmonton grocery store the day after police put out the warning.
A spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service described Lewis as "a bit brazen" to continue the fraudulent operation after her photo had been splashed across the media.
"She continued to ply her trade and maximize her efforts," Scott Pattison says.
While the RCMP are so far only aware of the two incidences at the mall and the grocery store, Pattison says it's possible Lewis had attempted her scam in other locations as well.
"We're asking anyone who might have been affected to come forward. We want to know if there were other victims," he says.
Whether it was the staleness of the donuts or something else, several customers had a sick feeling after donating to Lewis' phony charity.
"Luckily these people were on the ball and checked their online banking right away. They didn't wait for the bank to contact them," Pattison says.
He says it's sad to see the generosity of the public poached on by a "less than honourable individual."
"It seems that tragedy often breeds victims, not just from the disaster itself, but from those trying to help," Pattison says. "There are people who notice the opportunity to steal from unassuming people with heartfelt intentions."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013