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Donation Deception: Check Your Charities

1:16 PM, Jan 18, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A First Coast woman claims someone stole items she intended to donate to charity after her garage sale, and now police are investigating.

"We had the garage full to right here. It was full. It was completely full," said Jennifer Rapsky.

After posting about her garage sale on Craigslist, Rapsky said she was contacted by a woman claiming to represent local charities.

The woman told Rapsky her name was Asheton Bradley and wanted to know if she could pick up whatever didn't sell to donate.

"I said absolutely! Absolutely," she said  

Red flags started going up later that day when an unmarked van pulled up to Rapsky's home and hauled off her things without saying a word.

She tried to contact Bradley to figure out what was going on, and when she didn't get a response, she found her on Facebook.

"Her status was 'Got a new shipment. Picked up today. We'll be open at two,'" Rapsky read.  

Rapsky is convinced the woman stole her things and is now selling them online for profit.

"For me, I feel stupid. I feel like, 'How did I fall for this?' And how many other people fell for this? How many people were scammed like me," she asked.

In an email exchange with First Coast News, Bradley claimed to be associated with several local charities, including Safe Harbor, Quigley House, and the Barnabas Center.

All three denied having ever worked with or having met the woman.

"You want to be cautious, especially if you've placed an ad and someone says they're coming to pick it up. Call the charity. That would be my number one tip," said Safe House Co-Founder Robbie Smith.  

In the emails, Bradley also mentions a for-profit thrift store on Timuquana Rd. called New 2 U, they too had never heard of her.

"I do all I can to keep my business legit. To keep my name good, that way when people come to me, they're not just coming to my store, they're coming to a place they know they can trust," said owner, Ramon Smith.  

Eventually, Asheton Bradley stopped answering emails, and refused to respond to phone calls.

But every organization we spoke with told us that they don't solicit for donations, especially on Craigslist, and they would only go pick up items if asked.

"They took good stuff. They took boxes of clothes and furniture. I mean, hundreds of dollars worth of stuff," said Rapsky.

First Coast News

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