CRIME WATCH

Utah non-profit claims dinner crashers scammed them

May 14, 2018, 11:22 PM | Updated: May 15, 2018, 12:03 am

West Jordan, Utah – You’ve heard of “wedding crashers” but what about “charity dinner crashers”?

A local non-profit wants to get the word out about a woman who they say crashed their annual gala, pledging thousands in donations, only to get a free dinner and take off.

“It was a beautiful evening,” said Lindsay Kaeding, Director of Development for The Utah Adoption Exchange.

It was an evening almost a year in the making. The Adoption Exchange’s Annual Gala is a big money maker for the non-profit.

“We rely heavily on it to carry our program services,” Kaeding explained.

Every penny raised goes to recruiting adoptive homes for children stuck in foster care. So, when Kaeding got a last minute request for two more seats at 100 dollars a plate, she made room.

“She alluded to the fact that she wanted to make a significant contribution that night.”

Kaeding says it was a woman who identified herself as “Emmie.” She claimed to be an executive with a Fortune 500 company. She arrived at the gala with a date, checkbook in hand and seemingly with her heart in the right place.

“She came to me and was crying and really excited about the event and what we do,” Kaeding said. “She wrote me out a $20,000 check.”

The charitable behavior didn’t end there. Kaeding says the woman pledged another $20,000 from her employer.

“I was ecstatic,” Kaeding said.

The feeling faded as the evening came to a close and it came time for “Emmie” to pay her bar tab.

“The card wouldn’t go through,” Kaeding said.

The next morning, Kaeding’s suspicions of bad checks was spot on.

“The bank told me to call and report this,” Kaeding said.

Since the event was held in West Jordan, Kaeding contacted West Jordan police.

“The patrol officer who took the report decided to investigate,” Sgt. J.C. Holt said. “The woman basically said it was an error, and she had written checks she thought were OK but grabbed the wrong checkbook.”

Legally speaking, there isn’t much police can do.

“We’re kind of on the borderline of theft of services,” Sgt. Holt explained.

The crashing couple may have scored a free dinner but more than that, Kaeding says they stole the hope of sorely needed donations.

“I never would have thought something like this happen,” Kaeding said. “I can’t believe people would have such ill intention in coming to a children’s charity.”

Kaeding says The Adoption Exchange plans to press charges to try to recoup the $200 in dinner costs. As for the company the woman claimed she worked for, they don’t have any record of her employment.

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Utah non-profit claims dinner crashers scammed them