A man is accused of collecting money for his sick daughter but then never making good on those promises.
Pasadena Police and Deer Park Police departments said the man, identified as Chad Skelton, 30, preyed on people's humanity and kindness. Police said he targeted small businesses in Deer Park, La Porte and Pasadena, and they found more than 20 alleged victims to his scheme.
Police charged Skelton with theft Thursday.
"We started investigating it. We found victims since 2016," Deer Park Police Lt. Chris Brown said.
One victim, identified as Brooke, said Skelton told her that his child had Leukemia and needed life-saving surgery. She said her heart broke when she heard the story. Her co-workers also felt bad.
She said they all donated money to him.
"He came into our office selling barbecue plates saying his child has cancer," Brooke said. "He needed an extra $80 to meet his goal, so I went to the ATM to get the money out."
However, the barbecue plates never came, and they never saw him again.
"It raised red flags. We got a little worried," Brooke said.
Brooke found that she wasn't alone. They found a Facebook page with more people sharing similar stories about the same man, according to police.
"I have 52 names, I believe," Brooke said.
Police found most victims had given between $40 to $120 but wrote off the issue because it was a small amount.
"That's what makes us great—is that we're always willing to help people in need, but you do need to be cautious, and you do need to do your research," Brown said.
For Brooke, she was determined to help hold this man accountable.
“[Skelton] seemed so sincere, and that was the worst thing about this,” she said. “How he manipulated so many people and the way he looked us in the eye and told us about his daughter.”