KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (CBS) — Police say an employee of a local YMCA intentionally misled her employer and colleagues about being displaced after a fire. She’s accused of almost getting away with more than $30,000 in donations.
“It’s disheartening, unfortunately,” Kennett Square Police Chief William Holdsworth said.READ MORE: 25-Year-Old Woman Robbed After Offering $5 To Suspect Asking For Money In Fairmount, Philadelphia Police Say
A Chester County mom is accused of lying about losing her home and belongings after a fire damaged the Victory Brewing Company and Magnolia Apartments in Kennett Square on Jan. 25.
“The next day, this fraud scheme actually began,” Holdsworth said.
According to police, the woman told her then-employer — the YMCA of Greater Brandywine — her unit was one of 33 destroyed and that she was living in a hotel with her children. Through their employee assistance program, friends, colleagues and even members stepped up to help in a big way.
“Approximately $14,000 in gift cards to this suspect,” Holdsworth said. “There also was approximately about $19,000 in cash.”
Instead, police say last week they were alerted by the YMCA that the woman didn’t even live in that building and that everyone had been played.READ MORE: Thieves Steal ATM From West Philadelphia Laundromat
In a statement to Eyewitness News, the YMCA said “the disbursement was immediately halted, and the individual did not receive any of the donated funds. Additionally, their employment with YGBW was terminated.”
“The YMCA handled this magnificently. They came forward as soon as they realized something wasn’t correct with what was going on,” Holdsworth said.
All named donations have been returned. Anonymous gifts are being donated to the mayor’s fund to help the actual victims. The suspect has also been fired. The YMCA saying, they are “appalled that anyone — but especially a staff member — would exploit a tragedy for personal gain and take advantage of the generosity of our community.”
The suspect, whose name has not been released, faces third-degree theft by deception charges.
An official cause of that fire is still to be announced.
Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of this fraud investigation is asked to contact Kennett Square Police.MORE NEWS: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Longwood Gardens' $250 Million Expansion Project That Gets Underway Today
CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.