PRESS RELEASE: Investigators arrested Ashley Bemis today on multiple felony counts for defrauding individuals who believed they were donating to firefighters battling the Holy Fire. Bemis is accused of collecting donations and keeping them for her personal benefit. pic.twitter.com/s4iYPIXco8
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSheriff) December 19, 2018
Deputies in California say a woman faked having a firefighter husband so she could bilk well-wishers of donations. They said there are allegations she previously feigned pregnancies in similar schemes. Ashley Bemis, 28, was booked Tuesday on multiple felony counts of grand theft, second-degree burglary, witness intimidation, and making false financial statements, according to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
It all started with the Holy Fire. Flames burned through Riverside and Orange counties, eating up over 23,000 acres. Deputies claim Bemis took advantage of the damage. She put up pictures of herself and her “fictitious firefighter husband” up on social media accounts, and asked for money and items, according to the sheriff’s department. She said that the gifts would go toward her spouse’s co-workers.
Deputies say a captain of a local fire agency had a bad feeling about Bemis soliciting donations, and he got in touch with authorities. Investigators executed search warrants on her vehicle, home, and garages. They said they discovered items consistent with the donations.
According to the news release, San Clemente cops said that other people claimed that Bemis also faked being pregnant to cheat donors out of money.
The defendant was sent to Orange County Jail on $50,000 bail. Records show she is scheduled for a court appearance Wednesday.
Bemis was under investigation for months. She even appeared on Dr. Phil to discuss the claim against her, and claimed she was just trying to help the firefighters.
[Mugshot via Orange County]