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|Two booked, two sought in charity fund scam|
The Concordia Christmas Charity Fund was the target of a check cashing scam this week resulting in the arrests of two parish residents and warrants issued for two more suspects.
The charity fund was originated in the 1980s when outside promoters skipped town after raising money locally for a bogus organization.
Charged with theft by fraud were Tina T. Matthews, 23, 803 N. Magnolia St., Vidalia, and Herman Miguel Ceasor, 27, 490 Lincoln Rd., Ferriday. Bond for Matthews was set at $10,000 in Seventh District Court today. Ceasor's bond was set at $5,000.
The two were arrested Tuesday in connection with a bogus check scam that involved fake pre-printed checks that seemed to be from the Concordia Christmas Charity Fund -- which, in fact, does not even have pre-printed checks for their annual fundraiser for the parish's less fortunate.
According to Sgt. Chris Groh of the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office, two suspects successfully cashed a $500 check at a Ferriday business and left the business.
As Groh was obtaining warrants to arrest the two initial suspects, Deputy Derrick Freeman detained two more suspects who were attempting to cash similar fake Charity Fund checks at a Ferriday business.
The Charity Fund will not lose any funds through the scam, according to Groh and Charity Fund Chairwoman Rena Pitts. The program is sponsored by the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce.
"The Concordia Christmas Charity Fund (CCCF) does not give checks to anyone except for expenses," Pitts stressed. "And we do not have pre-printed checks," she added.
Pitts emphasized that the CCCF only gives toys to young children, gift cards to children ages 9 to 12 and food to those older than 12.
"We never give anyone a check as a gift," she said.
Pitts said approximately 160 families, all verified for eligibility by the Office of Family Services in Ferriday, have applied for assistance.
"We will have enough funds for all," said Pitts. "Even though donations have been down this year, fortunately, so was the number of applications we received."
"We are thankful for the donations and the concern we've received for the less fortunate families in our parish," said Pitts.
Distribution will be held Saturday, December 20th, 8:30 a.m. at the Ferriday High School cafeteria.
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