SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (CNN) — A California woman is accused of pulling a scam, while yanking on heartstrings.
The suspect allegedly stole $11,000 worth of items, claiming to collect for firefighters.
“I’m just in shock, pure shock,” neighbor Shaylee Florentino said.
When Florentino and her mom Sandy Summers watched Ashley Bemis and her mom carry in load after load of drinks, snacks, and supplies in to the San Juan Capistrano apartment the two share with Bemis’ brother…
“I just thought they went shopping… in the house. We would joke — there they go shopping again,” Summers said.
These neighbors had no idea.
Sheriff’s detectives say Bemis was running an elaborate con, posing as the wife of a fictitious Cal Fire firefighter on Facebook.
She posted a call for donations like drinks, food, baby items, beds — all for firefighters battling the Holy Fire.
“All these kind-hearted people were opening their hearts…firemen on the line. She preyed on that,” said Lt. Michael Peters with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Only after detectives say she collected the donated items at drop off locations throughout South County is when San Clemente residents on Facebook took notice.
They warned people to stop donating.
They posted these photos of other schemes they say Bemis pulled off all while running a wedding planning business with a P.O. Box in San Clemente.
Take a look at this picture of a baby shower church acquaintances threw her after she told them she lost her husband and other children to a horrific car crash.
Sheriff’s deputies confirmed that Bemis pretended to be pregnant, even using a fake baby bump.
She even had photos taken.
Then there are pictures Facebook friends say she posted, pretending to be hte birth mother of the children she was only nannying.
Detectives served a search warrant on her apartment and garages, where they found at least $11,000 in donated items.
“In some cases people would go to Walmart spend eight hundred and buy goods and drop them off,” Lt. Peters said.
No charges have been filed against Bemis as of now.