Al Reynolds from Edmond, Oklahoma, has pleaded guilty to an elaborate fake cancer scheme that scammed church members out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Reynolds’ fiancee turned him into police after he scammed people by preying on their sympathy. Reynolds claimed that he had had several recurrences of Leukemia, when in fact he had never had cancer at all.
“This is what he does. He preys on people with money or Christian women or people who are compassionate and caring and giving,” Reynolds’ fiancee, Tracey LaValle, told Oklahoma News 4. “He’s very charismatic.”
“This defendant just defrauded good-hearted people who were very benevolent and loving and just wanted to help someone they didn’t even know who they thought had cancer,” said District Attorney David Prater at the time Reynolds was charged.
Reynolds pleaded guilty to five felony counts of obtaining money by deception and one computer crime. He has paid the district attorney’s office $30,441 in restitution to the victims.
While Reynolds’ attorney is asking for a deferred sentence and no time in prison, Reynolds faces a maximum of 50 years of prison time. His sentencing is set in Oklahoma City for January 9, 2019.
Of course, people on Facebook had plenty to say to Mr. Reynolds. One person posted, “My sister, brother, niece, uncle and others have battled cancer. Some winning. Some we have lost. You sir…are a piece of trash!!!!”
And a mother posted: “Meanwhile some of us have kids battling for their life and cannot get these kinds of donations because of people like this. How do they get so many people to donate?”
The site CyberScout gives these tips for donating to any cause with less risk of deception.
- Don’t give cash to anyone.
- Vet charities or causes with the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
We would also add research and request validation from a medical professional before giving.
It’s tragic that scammers could keep others from receiving the help they need. The best recommendation is to continue to give, but give wisely.