A Flowery Branch woman used multiple made-up stories of fires that destroyed homes and killed dogs to illegally solicit money from numerous local businesses, according to authorities.
Linda Alice Morgan, 46, was arrested Tuesday by Oakwood Police and charged with three counts of false statements by telephone solicitor and two counts of impersonating a public employee.
Morgan posed as an employee of Regions Bank in at least one of the solicitations and a City Hall employee in at least two of the instances, according to Oakwood Police Investigator Todd Templeton.
He said at least three businesses and a person outside of Oakwood were solicited by Morgan, with those cases being turned over to Flowery Branch, Gainesville and Hall County authorities.
Templeton said the case was solved because some businesses did what anyone should do when faced with someone asking for money.
“They attempted to validate the story on their own,” Templeton said.
Morgan identified herself as a Regions Bank employee at Curt’s Cafeteria in early July and said she was raising money on behalf of Hopewell Baptist Church for a family that had lost their home and dog in a fire on Poplar Springs Road, authorities said.
She received a donation and called back on July 13 to ask for another donation by saying God would bless the business more if it helped, adding that Curt’s would receive a tax deduction for donating through the church, according to Templeton. The owner became suspicious and investigated the caller’s claims.
Morgan reached out to Smoke House BBQ on July 31 and said she was a Flowery Branch City Hall employee, saying she was raising money for the Flowery Branch police chief’s daughter who had lost her house and dog in a fire and wanted to raise $600, authorities said. Her information was taken, and she was advised the business would call her back after talking with its owner.
Morgan told the same story of the Flowery Branch police chief’s daughter and called herself a City Hall employee on July 31 in a call to Papa Sam’s Sandwich Shop and was told the business would donate, according to Templeton.
After the phone conversation, the business was suspicious and called the City Halls of Oakwood and Flowery Branch and realized “the caller was a fraud and the matter was referred to the Oakwood Police Department,” Templeton said.
Not long after, Morgan came to collect the donation from Papa Sam’s. Someone there called the police. Morgan fled before officers could arrive, but the business took down Morgan’s license plate, which led to her identification and arrest.
Templeton said Morgan’s phone number was a common factor in each instance, and she even used her actual full name with at least one business.
The investigator said the reason for Morgan’s solicitations was not known.
Templeton said he knew of $25 and some food donations Morgan received, but that there is probably more out there that authorities don’t know about.
Templeton said the Oakwood Police don’t come across many cases like this, but he said people often don’t realize they are being scammed.
“A lot of times it simply goes unreported,” Templeton said.