Ashley Bemis, the San Clemente woman accused of conning cash and supplies from Facebook followers for a fake Holy Fire relief effort, was arrested yesterday. Bemis is being held on $50 thousand bail, and has been charged with felony grand theft, second degree burglary, witness intimidation, and making false financial statements.
According to an OC Sheriff’s press release, Bemis, “presented herself on social media as the wife of a firefighter working on the fire line of the August 2018 Holy Fire in Riverside and Orange counties. On multiple social media pages, Bemis posted pictures of herself and her fictitious firefighter husband asking for donations. She solicited for items she claimed would benefit the firefighters working alongside her husband battling the blaze that ultimately burned more than 23,000 acres in the Cleveland National Forest and destroyed 18 structures.”
A former friend of Bemis’ told the Weekly in September about Bemis’ history of deception, which included defrauding friends through numerous faked pregnancies.
Original estimates alleged Bemis stole $11,000 in cash and goods from would–be donors, but now the estimate is down to $2,000. Carrie Braun, Public Information Officer for the OCSD, says that number is flexible. “We reached that number by matching items that were recovered in the search warrant to victims,” Braun says. But because not everyone who donated wants to come forward as a victim, the number has decreased.
Bemis is set to be arraigned this week.