HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A New York City woman tried to scam donors by posing as the aunt of a child killed in the Connecticut elementary school massacre, federal authorities said Thursday.
Nouel Alba, 37, was arrested Thursday and accused of using her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to seek donations for what she called a "funeral fund." She told one donor that she had to enter the scene of the mass shooting in Newtown to identify her nephew, according to the criminal complaint.
Alba is charged with lying to FBI agents who were investigating charity scams related to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14.
Alba, of the Bronx, appeared Thursday in federal court in Hartford and was released on $50,000 bond. A telephone number listed for her was not in service.
In text messages with a donor, Alba allegedly said she hugged President Barack Obama during his visit to Newtown and said she was afraid to see her nephew in a casket: "11 gun shot in his little body," she wrote, according to the complaint.
Investigators say Alba told them she did not know her PayPal account was being used to solicit money and refunded donations right after receiving them. According to the complaint, however, she did not return the donations until several days later.
If convicted, she faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
The FBI is asking anybody with knowledge of scams related to the Newtown shootings to contact it. The state is also checking the identities of people soliciting money in the name of the Newtown victims, according to William Rubenstein, state commissioner of consumer protection.