Bequest Scam Warning

Hello all, 

We wanted to make everyone aware of this scam that was attempted on our Community Foundation. Please share this! We received an email (copied at the bottom of this post) from someone stating his mother, Julia Sadler, had recently passed away and indicated in her trust that she would like donations made to certain charities including ours. We had no record of his mother ever making a donation to the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation. We googled her obituary and she did not live in or near Wichita Falls, which was also odd. 

A few days later, we received a cashier's check via Fedex from Frank Financial in NYC for $191, 250 in memory of Julia Sadler. That same day we received another email from the son, John Heathman stating he had given instructions for the check to be sent and he wanted to discuss how we could memorialize his mother. He gave a phone number and stated he lived in Hong Kong. I contacted the cashier's check issuing bank to verify the check. There was a fraud marker and stop payment placed on the check. At this point, we contacted our local police department financial crimes unit. He said we were correct to suspect a scam. 

On another organization's exchange I am on, yesterday I saw the same scam posted that happened to another nonprofit. The names were different, but the check amount and scenario were the exact same. This has apparently been attempted at multiple nonprofits and colleges across the country. The scam was that after the nonprofit deposits the check, the son would contact the organization stating that a junior accoutant had issued the check for the wrong amount. The amount should have been $100,000 and the organization would need to refund the balance. 

From: The Julia Sadler Trust <jsadlertrust@outlook.com>

Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2024 11:00 AM

To: Leslie Schaffner <lschaffner@wfacf.org>

Subject: Giving


My name is John Heathman. My mother, Julia Sadler In her will indicated that she would like to make donations from her trust to certain charities, including yours.

I am contacting you to notify you of her intentions as well as inquire about the best way to make a monetary donation from her trust. I would like to confirm where to mail a check for this donation to be utilized in a way that honors my late mother's wishes.

Could you please advise me on who I should coordinate this donation with at your charity? I'm also interested in learning about any commemorative giving programs you may offer to recognize my mother and her donation.

Please let me know the best contact information for who I should discuss these donations with.

Thank you for your guidance on this matter. I look forward to connecting further to fulfill my late mother's philanthropic plans.


John Heathman

Sign In or Register to comment.