Woman accused of using fake firefighter husband to collect Calif. wildfire donations

WATCH ABOVE: Progression of the Holy Fire in Trabuco Canyon, California was captured in a time-lapse video on August 8

A California woman has been arrested for allegedly posing as a firefighter’s wife in order to pocket thousands in “donations” for wildfire relief.

Ashley Bemis, 28, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of grand theft and other felonies, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced in a Facebook post. She was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

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Police allege the suspect “presented herself on social media as the wife of a firefighter working on the fire line of the August 2018 Holy Fire.” The suspect allegedly posted photos of herself and her fake firefighter husband, “Shane Goodman,” and asked people to contribute money and goods to help the firefighters.

“Bemis is suspected of collecting more than US$2,000 in donations, both cash and items like socks, sports drinks, water and camping equipment,” police said.

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Her original posts have been deleted.

The Holy fire burned more than 90 square kilometres of land in southern California’s Cleveland National Forest last August. It was one of several major fires to scorch California this year.

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Bemis has previously been accused of faking pregnancies and the “deaths” of three children she did not have, the Orange County Register reported earlier this year. Police launched an investigation into the allegations in August, when the fake firefighter story also came to light.

In one instance, Bemis was working as a nanny when she allegedly pretended the child was her own on social media. The child’s real mother, Emily Strickland, found out about the deception and fired Bemis immediately. However, Strickland allegedly continued the ruse by claiming that her child had been killed. Strickland also accused Bemis of faking a pregnancy with a pillow.

“It was a whole new level of crazy,” Strickland told the OC Register.

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Bemis acknowledged the deception in a televised interview with Dr. Phil in September.

“I think I just wanted the attention. I wanted to feel like I had a purpose,” she said on the show.

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None of the allegations have been tested in court.

— With files from The Associated Press