Local nonprofit warning vendors after some were contacted by an unknown person

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

The most wonderful time of the year is still months away, but don’t say that to Falon Tabares. Her nonprofit agency The Healthy Earth Corporation is busy finalizing plans for its “Meet Santa” fundraiser.

“It’s free. And we’re going to have like a DJ, and vendors are going to be there,” said co-founder Falon Tabares.

Maybe too many vendors though, Tabares showed me Facebook posts from someone using the name “Annie” messaging vendors asking for cash in exchange for a spot at the “Meet Santa” event.

“It’s just absolutely upsetting. It’s really repulsive,” said Tabaras who has no clue who “Annie” might be. “She was really pressuring her to send her something via cash app. So like PayPal, Zelle. And just like, just do it now, because we only have two spots left, like do it right this minute.”

She said the scam only hurts the young people she’s trying to help. “We’re raising funds to do something incredible for the community and for the kids to be able to learn environmental technologies and environmental critical issues.”

President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County told WINK News before you give or agree to work with a nonprofit organization, check them out and don’t trust social media alone.

Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County said, “people are getting more sophisticated on creating fake organizations online, and people are giving to them. People can create anything online and say it’s, well, it’s a legit thing.”

The Community Foundation of Collier County told WINK News that they don’t see this particular type of scheme often. They say this is much more common after a disaster.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office financial crime bureau is now investigating.

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