As a wildfire tore through some 23,000 acres in Southern California over the summer, Ashley Bemis was soliciting donations of money and other items via social media to benefit the firefighters battling the blaze. She even posted photos of her firefighter husband, Shane Goodman, on social media, saying that he and his crew were fighting the Holy Fire and did not have the supplies they needed. There were just a couple problems: There was no Shane Goodman and Bemis had no intention of passing the donations along to firefighters, authorities say; instead, the 28-year-old Orange County resident pocketed more than $2,000 (initially thought to be $11,000) in cash and things like socks, sports drinks, water, and camping equipment, NBC reports. Authorities arrested Bemis Tuesday on suspicion of felony grand theft, burglary, witness intimidation, and lying to police, according to the Orange County Register.
“It’s a strange case,” Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Peters tells the paper, adding that the alleged scam began to fall apart as victims complained on Facebook. “It’s one of those cases that kept growing as investigators turned over rocks. It was very complicated because of the intricacies of her fraudulent behavior.” But this scheme is just the most recent for Bemis, per the Mercury News, which reports that she has a history of faking pregnancies (fake baby bump and all) and collecting gifts and money at baby showers. And in 2010, Emily Strickland hired Bemis to be her son’s nanny. Bemis reportedly pretended the 20-month-old was hers and later claimed he had been killed in a car accident. “It was a whole new level of crazy,” Strickland tells the Mercury. Bemis manufactured two other children, according to reports, and later claimed that they both died, as well. (A lottery scam may send a woman to prison for life.)