Bridgeport cancer patient says scam artist promised to help pay medical bills
Officials are warning the public about a popular new scam targeting cancer patients.
Factory worker Rhonda Jones, of Bridgeport, says she is grateful to be alive after undergoing a lumpectomy on Thursday to treat her breast cancer.
The 59-year-old says she was cheated by a scam artist who contacted her on Facebook and claimed she was eligible for a $15,000 grant to help with her medical bills. She was told that all she had to do was pay a $500 fee upfront, which she did, but then realized she'd been taken advantage of.
Her lifelong friend and advocate Harry Bell told News 12 that he reported the scam to the state attorney general's office.
Jones says the caller claimed to represent a well-established New Haven-based nonprofit and seemed to be very credible.
News 12 contacted that nonprofit and they said they are very aware of the scam, which targets people who have posted on social media about having cancer.
The nonprofit wishes to not be named but issued a statement to News 12 saying:
"It is unfortunate this scam happened to Ms. Jones. After investigating, we confirmed that neither the employee nor this organization are in any way involved in the scam. We have learned this same type of scam involving grants and persons impersonating friends on Facebook is happening frequently."
The nonprofit urged the public to review a set of warnings issued by the office of the Minnesota Attorney General called "Phony Solicitations for Grants" found here.
In addition, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Saturday that he will be investigating the scam that targets the most vulnerable among us.
"People should be aware that these low-life bottom feeders are out there," said Blumenthal.
Rhonda Jones is still recovering from her surgery, but, as she heals, she says she simply wants her $500 back.
"I just couldn't believe that somebody would actually take my money for deceitful gain. You know, I would rather you ask me for the money then just take it and promise me...sell me a dream. You know, you sold me a dream when I need dreams to come true right now," said Jones.
Jones is currently raising funds on her GoFundMe page for her extensive medical expenses. If anyone would like to donate, the link can be found here.