HAUPPAGUE, NY (CBSNewYork) – People on Long Island thought they were buying fancy jewelry to help a good cause, but officials say it was all a fraud.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reportsREAD MORE: Sharee Jones Charged With Arson, Hate Crime After Fire At Brooklyn Yeshiva
The jewelry looks very real, but in reality it was all fake, according to Suffolk County district attorney Thomas Spota.
Spota told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan that Mary Ann Bell pretended to run the Port Jefferson food pantry, but that in reality she defrauded dozens of people in an effort to line her own pockets.
“The food bank is a not for profit organization. She laundered the money through the account for her own personal needs. Paying for her home, mortgages, cars, jewelry–‘real jewelry!’- vacations,” he said.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
She claimed she was selling authentic Tiffany jewelry that had a few flaws, so the prices were discounted and all the money was going to help the hungry and homeless.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
But Spota said Bell pocketed about $450,000 in three years of selling the phony goods and she never gave the charity a dime.
“She did nothing as far as being director of the food pantry itself,” said Spota.
Spota said Bell used the money to pay her mortgage, take a trip to Disney and buy her own expensive and real gold diamond jewelry.
Bell’s family told CBS2 that she is suffering from health issues. Bell is scheduled to be arraigned on February 1st.
Have you had experience with a similar hoax in the past? Sound off in the comments section below…MORE NEWS: Suffolk Police: Man Killed In Hit-And-Run On Long Island Expressway In Brentwood