Police investigators say they will seek multiple felony charges against a phony donor that wrote bad checks for more than $11,000 in auction items from a Laguna Beach gala and resold them on Craigslist.
On Thursday, Laguna Beach police seized some of the remaining auction items after conducting a probation search at the home of a 34-year-old Cypress resident, who is already on felony probation for fraud related charges, according to Capt. Jason Kravetz.
The suspect was identified from a photo taken of guests arriving last September at the Aids Services Foundation’s Red Ball II, Kravetz said. Detectives will ask the district attorney’s office to file felony fraud and theft charges next week against the suspect, who was not arrested but is not considered a flight risk, he said.
The Irvine-based organization that provides services to 1,600 HIV-positive clients contacted police about a dead-beat donor earlier this month. The report was prompted by a complaint from a man that paid $600 for two domestic airline vouchers advertised on Craigslist that proved invalid, said ASF spokesman Marc Montminy.
The vouchers had been cancelled by ASF in November after months of fruitless email exchanges with a Red Ball guest whose checks, $5,000 for a table and $11,480 on auction items, were worthless, Montminy said. “He gave us a story that his CPA had run off with his money.”
The organization requested that he return the items until his funds were restored, Montminy said. Though the phony donor agreed to do so, he never did.
“It’s never happened to us before,” said Montminy. “You don’t want to believe someone wants to take advantage of a charity.” Last year’s Red Ball raised $275,000, he said.
From the Cypress house police recovered some of the auction items, including a signed Wicked poster, an expensive men’s watch, a treatment voucher for Botox and Disneyland passes. The suspect told police he had previously sold a women’s handbag and the hotel voucher, Kravetz said.