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FBI: Woman Posed as Relative of Sandy Hook Victim to Solicit Money

The woman, from the Bronx, NY, reportedly lied to authorities who are investigating fundraising fraud in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, CT.

NEWTOWN, CT -- In what authorities are calling an "unconscionable" act, a 37-year-old Bronx woman was arrested today on allegations that she pretended to be a relative of a victim of the Sandy Hook School shooting in an attempt to solicit money.

According to a press release just issued by David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nouel Alba was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging her with lying to FBI agents in connection with their investigation into a fraudulent fundraising scheme related to the Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting.

News of the shooting that took the lives of 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook School has touched people all over the world, and led to an incredible outpouring of emotional support and financial contributions.

The complaint alleges that Alba used her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to falsely claim to be a relative of a shooting victim, and solicited money from people who wanted to donate, claiming the money was for the child’s “funeral fund,” the release states. 

At Alba’s instruction, authorities said, donor-victims sent money to a PayPal account controlled and accessed by her. When contacted by FBI Special Agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown tragedy, Alba falsely stated that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, solicit donations or recently access her PayPal account, according to the release. 

Alba also falsely claimed to have immediately refunded any donations that she received, authorities said.

“This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone who attempts to profit from this tragedy by contriving fraudulent schemes that exploit the many victims, their families and individuals who sincerely want to help,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and the individuals operating them face federal or state prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

“It is unconscionable to think that the families of the victims in Newtown, and a sympathetic community looking to provide them some sort of financial support and comfort, have become the targets of criminals,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “Today's arrest is a stern message that the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who perpetrate Internet fund raising scams, especially those scams that exploit the most vulnerable in their time of shared sorrow.”

Following her arrest, Alba appeared before United States Magistrate Thomas P. Smith in Hartford and was released on a $50,000 bond. If convicted of making false statements to federal agents, Alba faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Fein stressed that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Individuals with knowledge of Newtown-related fundraising schemes are encouraged to contact the FBI in Connecticut at 203-777-6311. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Francis.

Mike December 27, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Unbelievably sick.
Laura December 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Disgusting...I hope she receives the maximum penalties.
Richard Hooker December 27, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Throw the book at her, and publish her name and address so people know who she is. Absolutely horrifying that people try to take advantage of tragedy
Gail Lovorn December 27, 2012 at 07:39 PM
These families have been through the worst tragedy a parent can face. It is heartless that an individual would try to profit from their loss. Lock her up and throw away the key!
James December 27, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I would hope they publicly humiliate her, publisher her name and photo on the cover of the NY Post, so millions of people know the scum bag she truley is ! You Skank !
Mimi Bureau December 27, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Disgusting. Taught I had seen it all. but this really show how low some people could be...... Unbelievable......
Mike December 27, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Five years doesn't seem like enough but I hope they make an example of her and give her the maximum term and fine. This is about as low as one can get. A big pat on the back for those who worked to bring her down.
Mark McCusker December 27, 2012 at 09:17 PM
She should have to spend time at all the funerals remaining and be put on display for public scorn.
Eluid Tapiasanchez December 27, 2012 at 11:11 PM
She should be sentence and on her jail cell hung all the victims pictures so she can see them looking at her!!!
Lianne Mathie December 28, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I want to know why she was released.
Michael Micaletti December 28, 2012 at 06:37 AM
I hope she gets the max. This will send a message to her cohorts! I hope the feds look into how many other scams they have going on! I'm sure she collects welfare and is on section 8, yet she can afford 50k bail. Burn baby Burn!
Carolann macmaster December 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM
She should be in jail awaiting trial. Clearly she can't tell the truth and shouldn't be trusted.
Steelergirl December 29, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I hope they give her the maximum sentence and fine!! Makes me sick that someone would try to make a profit from this. These families have been through a horrific tragedy that no parent should have to face. She should have to face each family and tell them what a low life piece of scum she is.
trappist monk December 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Perhaps at her next destination she will have Adam Lanza for a roommate
John December 29, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Sincere question: What are the incurred expenses that require so much fund raising for Sandy Hook, CT? I know that poor community is picking up the pieces and trying to deal with the tragedy. I'm afraid money will bring out the likes of Alba. At the same time, we're still dealing with the devastation in New York from the hurricane that also need our help. God bless those families and those helping not just here, but everywhere!

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