WEST KELOWNA – The owner of Mandy and Me Trailriding says a woman she trusted to set up a fundraising webpage has stolen the donation money.
“I’m pretty much come to the conclusion the money’s gone,” Silverado Socrates says of the $3,500 that was withdrawn late last week. “She was withdrawing the money over the course of a couple days. I managed to stop it before she got the last $500.”
Socrates was forced to sell her five-acre ranch in West Kelowna to the highest bidder earlier this month after she was allegedly conned into buying into three West Kelowna houses. Now $500,000 in debt and in need of temporary homes for her 15 horses and a pig, it appears the woman who spent the last 20 years providing shelter and jobs for people down on their luck has been swindled again.
Socrates met the woman she believes took the money by email when news broke of the court ordered sale. The woman contacted her saying her mother worked for Socrates years ago and that she came with her to Mandy and Me at least once. She said she wanted to help her by setting up a GoFundMe crowdraising page, which she would administer for her.
“Yes I recognized her from dancing but I didn’t remember her guiding for me. She said how she had a really good time coming up with her mom,” Socrates says. “I was so grateful for the help and she had a really good line... I wonder if she ever even came up with her mom at all.”
RCMP Cpl. Joe Duncan says West Kelowna RCMP received a complaint Nov. 20 alleging a woman, whose name can’t be released, stole money online. He says the investigation is at the earliest possible stage.
“There really hasn’t been much contact,” Duncan says. Socrates and the investigator, Const. Ryan Smith, spoke via email but he hasn’t even interviewed her.
Duncan says Smith also called the woman Socrates says set up the page and alleges stole the money.
“He’s called her and left a message and she’s emailed him some information,” Duncan says.
Socrates says she’s hopeful she can get some of the money back. She says GoFundMe has verified her identity and frozen the account, but told her $3,500 was withdrawn over the course of two days.
“Things just weren’t adding up,” she says. “She kept raising our goal without asking, she started it without asking. It just didn’t seem right. Then she wouldn’t get back to me. She’s been cagey the last few days and possibly leading me on the whole time.”
Socrates says when she found out about the withdrawals she contacted all the donors who didn't donate anonymously, telling them to try and cancel their donations.
“Hopefully I can get the names of all the people who donated so I can apologize,” she says. “I just feel awful.”
A message Infonews.ca left for the woman Socrates alleges stole the money has not been returned.
To make a donation to help Socrates find temporary homes for her animals, you can visit her new GoFundMe page.
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