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First American Arrested for A Tsunami Scam

February 19, 2005

by Kevin Caruso

Matthew Schmeider, an unemployed 24-year-old from Pittsburgh, has been arrested for fraud for sending out over 800,000 e-mails purporting to be soliciting donations for a tsunami charity.

Schmeider claimed to be from Mercy Corps., an international aid organization. He tried to get people to send money to his PayPal account, and after the almost one million e-mails, Schmeider made $150.

After he was arrested, he quickly admitted his guilt to police and said that he needed the money to pay off debts, but insisted that “some” of the money would have been donated to a tsunami charity.

Shmeider is the first American to be arrested for perpetrating a tsunami scam. He was released on $25,000 bail and will be back in court for a preliminary hearing next week.

Tsunami scams have been occurring since the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004.

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