Nouel Alba, a 37-year-old New York woman has been jailed after she allegedly solicited donations by passing herself off as a relative of one of the Sandy Hook massacre shooting victims.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Alba used her Facebook profile, PayPal accounts, and a series of phone calls to seek “funeral” donations just hours after the the Sandy Hook school shootings took place.
Alba, according to prosecutors, pretended to be the aunt of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, one of the children slain in the tragic massacre.
Investigators say Alba set up a “funeral fund” claiming that she was forced to enter the Sandy Hook crime scene to identify her nephew. She is also accused of lying to FBI agents who were tasked with identifying charity scams related to the shooting.
“We’ve set up a funeral fund for my brother and families,” Alba wrote on her profile before adding her PayPal account information and donation instructions.
In text messages with a donor, Alba allegedly stated that she met and hugged President Obama during his visit to Newtown and claimed that she was afraid to view her nephew in his casket.
Alba told agents that she wasn’t aware that her PayPal account was being used to solicit donations and promised to return the money immediately after it was received. Court records indicate, however, that she did not return any donations until several days later when her activities were given additional scrutiny by federal investigators.
Alba told investigators that someone had stolen her identity and hacked into her Facebook and PayPal accounts to perpetrate the scam. Federal authorities, however, say Alba’s transactions and related computer activity were tracked to her IP address.
Alba was arraigned Thursday on a charge of lying to FBI agents. She was released after posting $50,000 bond.