A Florida man os facing charges after allegedly running a bogus charity for military veterans, Volusia County deputies said.
Deputies said Christopher Blake, 46, of Ormond Beach, allegedly scammed dozens of people out of at least $20,000, saying the money was going to help military veterans. Deputies said Blake allegedly tried to use a selfie he took with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood to help boost profits.
Blake is facing a charge of operating an organized scheme to defraud, deputies said.
Deputies opened an investigation a couple of weeks ago after Blake took the selfie with the sheriff and posted it online.
"He's a scumbag," Chitwood said.
Chitwood said Blake asked for a selfie. Deputies said Blake allegedly posted the selfie to a bogus charity website to make the site appear more credible.
“The next morning, I received about five phone calls from different people who had dealings with him.” Chitwood said.
Blake allegedly claimed to run a charity for military veterans called Second Chance Veterans Foundation.
Investigators said Blake hosted a charity golf tournament at Debary Golf and Country Club on Oct 28.
According to arrest documents, 40 people attended the event and each paid Blake $100 to play golf and eat lunch.
The documents said Blake did not pay the $6,500 he owed to the golf course. Deputies said Blake eventually handed over a check, but it bounced.
“Everything was lining his pockets and he was going to run this scam until he got locked up,” Chitwood said.
Faye Crow is one of dozens of people the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said were fooled by Blake’s alleged scheme.
Crow is the property manager for the Daytona Beach building where Blake leased an office to operate his foundation.
She said Blake paid one month of rent, but then the money stopped coming.
“He was convincing,” she said. “We believed him.”
She continued, “We kind of still believed in his cause because he had a good story, so we moved him into an external, like another general space, out of his office.”
Despite promises of money coming soon, Crow said Blake never paid.
“(He had) lots of excuses,” Crow said. “Telling us, ‘Oh, we've got this fundraiser going on. We've got a golf tournament that's happening and it's almost there.’”