Nouel Alba, 37, of The Bronx, a borough of New York City, allegedly attempted to cheat donors by posing as the aunt of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.
The authorities said Alba had set up the fake funeral fund and sought donations through telephone calls, Facebook and text messages, the Associated Press reported.
She posed herself as the aunt of Noah Pozner -- a six-year-old killed in the shooting.
According to authorities, Alba posted a donation request on Facebook under the user name “Victorian Glam Fairys,” saying, “We’ve set up a funeral fund for my brother and families.” She also gave her PayPal and bank account details to receive donations, the New York Daily News reported.
Alba followed it up with a series of posts on the incident, pretending to be heartbroken over the tragedy.
Some of the readers transferred donations to her account.
Alba said in a post that she had helped the authorities identify the tot.
“Emotionally I can’t deal with it right now . . . tomorrow I’ll see (Noah) in a casket and that will be hard enough to handle,” she reportedly said to one of the donors who texted her about the incident.However, she was exposed by CNN’s "AC360," which broadcast a story on charity scams related to the incident. In her interview with CNN, Alba denied setting up any funeral fund.
She denied seeking donations when the FBI contacted her. She was charged with lying to the FBI and was released later on a $50,000 bond. If convicted, Alba will face up to five years in jail and a maximum $250,000 fine.
“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,” FBI Special Agent Kimberly Mertz said.
The ruse also shocked the victims’ relatives and the community. “I’m disgusted by it,” the child’s uncle, Alexis Haller, told NBC. “I think it’s disgusting behavior.”
Twenty children and six adults were killed when a 20-year-old gunman opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec 14.