|Police investigating "Will"|
Metro’s largest charity has called in the police to investigate what could be a serial fraud artist who preys on vulnerable senior citizens. Officials at the Metro Hospital Foundation say that a significant portion of the planned gift pledges they were expecting to see this year from donors who passed on instead went to the same mysterious figure named “Will”.
“It appears that in each case, these seniors left a large portion of their estate to this ‘Will’. The money should have gone to the hospital. We don’t know who he is or how he influenced them to change their last testament, but it sure sounds suspicious,” said Deputy Police Chief Dibble Brewer.
Brewer says the hospital foundation was expecting at least $1 million from more than 47 donors who passed on this year. But half of those donors, with nearly $400,000 in pledges, instead gave their pledges to “Will”.
Foundation CEO Sally Snidely says they began to get suspicious when so many families began talking to them about “Will”.
“The first time we heard about it was after one of our oldest and longest-giving annual donors passed away many months ago. When we contacted the family about the planned giving pledge they told us that that exact same amount had been given to ‘Will’. The, we heard it again and again. It was just as plain as daylight. Someone was tricking these seniors into leaving a good part of their estate to this ‘Will’,” she said.
Foundation officials reviewed their entire planned giving process trying to find a connection. The only thing linking the effected donors was that they all attended the same planned giving seminar last year.
“They all went to the same seminar on making a gift after you pass on, but that’s it. They died at separate times, leaving separate amounts and lived in different parts of the city. It’s a complete mystery how this ‘Will’ got to them all,” said Snidely.
The investigation comes after a series of setbacks for the Foundation’s planned giving program, Two years ago, the full-time planned giving staff were terminated and new, less expensive and less experienced employees were brought in to run the program on contract.
“We’ve had nothing but trouble with planned giving for the last while. We made some mistakes in our printed and online material and we found that our contract staff were not delivering very effective education seminars to donors. We even had to do several brochures over again. Not once, but twice. Now this,” added Snidely.
So far, the shadowy “Will” figure has not stepped forward to claim his various monies from the estates of the donors, but police say they will be watching and waiting.
“This is obviously a master criminal who knows how to prey on the weaknesses of our seniors,” said Deputy Chief Brewer. “But every criminal makes at least one mistake. And when this ‘Will” does we’ll catch him and put him away behind bars for a very, very long time.”