..."Volunteer Pilot" Uses Aviation In Lie?
Police in Miami have charged a man who posed as a pilot working night and day to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The man allegedly set up a bogus Internet donation site that fraudulently solicited donations to buy fuel for rescue aircraft that did not exist. Internet postings by the man claimed he was transporting to safety critically ill children, "Seven months old and smiling the whole way, as if she knew," according to the Miami Herald, and that he had tipped his wings at Air Force One while flying by. The warrant for his arrest stated he spoke by phone with a potential donor claiming he was in the cockpit of an aircraft about to take off. During that call, he was interrupted by "what appeared to be sounds from air traffic control" and told the donor it would be his last flight if more money didn't arrive, according to The Associated Press. Prosecutors say he made no such flights and police say the nine-day scam netted about $40,000 over a two-day peak. People who helped the man told the Miami Herald, "We were under the impression that he hadn't slept for days and he was flying back and forth to New Orleans." Fortunately, much of the money has been returned. The accused posted heart-wrenching stories on a Web site and asked for electronic donations promising "every dollar, every nickel would go directly into the tanks of these pilots' planes on their missions of mercy." The accused allegedly left a long and incriminating trail through e-mail and on online chat boards.