Holiday Facebook scam leaves dozens of children disappointed

Dozens of valley children may be looking at the possibility of no gifts this year all because of an online Christmas Grinch.

- Dozens of children in need were scammed out of holiday cheer this Christmas.

A Facebook site where families could sign up to receive gifts from sponsors was the victim of a "catfish."

The Facebook group is supporting more than 300 children this year, helping them find sponsors. About 50 of those children were expecting to get gifts from one generous person, until their parents discovered the person who was set to buy them was a fake.

Leann Sadlon was looking forward to getting gifts for her daughter Mari this Christmas. She was registered on the Facebook page Tender Hearts Christmas Angels Arizona. The organization links up families who can afford gifts with sponsors. Sadlon's sponsor was allegedly a woman by the name of Audreyanna Rodriguez. She was set to drop off gifts Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

"We waited and waited and I went on the computer and messaged her and asked her what was going on, are you still going to be able to come and it said that she saw it, but I got no reply," said Sadlon.

This was the same scenario for dozens of other families.

According to the group's founder, Christina Avina, whoever was identifying themselves as Rodriguez was in contact with her for months and agreed to sponsor 50 children -- and even posted pictures of a loaded truck filled with toys.

"I just feel bad for the children.. now we have a bunch of children that we don't know what's going to happen yet," said Avina.

After trying to reach the person all day Saturday, there was no response and the page had been deleted.

We caught up with the real Audreyanna Rodriguez, who says she's received harsh backlash on her personal Facebook page. She insists she's not behind the scandal and says it was an old Facebook account of hers being used.

"I tried to deactivate it several times and I mean people have gone in there and they've changed everything so I can't even get into it, I can't do anything," she said.

Rodriguez says she would never do anything like this and she, like the children, is a victim.

"I know how it is. I grew up homeless as a kid, I know what it's like to not have anything to open on Christmas. I would never do that."

Rodriguez says she will be filing a police report and she already has reached out to Facebook to report the problem.

The Facebook group is having a donation drive to make up for the lost gifts. You can drop off gifts to Pat's Precision Auto at 6386 W. Bell Road in Glendale from 8:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. until December 23rd.


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