Graves Co. woman accused of 'scamming' area churches - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Graves Co. woman accused of 'scamming' area churches

Dawn Riley (Source: Graves County Sheriff's Office) Dawn Riley (Source: Graves County Sheriff's Office)
GRAVES COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - The Graves County Sheriff's Office is investigating a woman for allegedly scamming area churches.

Dawn Riley, 36, of Mayfield, has been charged with theft by deception under $10,000 in Graves County.

She was taken to the Graves County Jail.

According to Sheriff Dewayne Redmon, Riley has allegedly been approaching area churches asking for money to help her with a sick child. 

Sheriff Redmon said deputies were told about Riley by the school system after they had recent calls from involved churches asking about the child's health. After checking into the actual health status of the child and finding the child to be in good health, deputies began contacting the churches and getting statements on what Riley's alleged story was when approaching them and asking for money.

According to deputies, Riley would allegedly tell the churches stories such as her son was going blind and had been sent to a Nashville, Tenn. hospital. She would allegedly say that she had to get money to get there to be with him, and for food while she was there, when in fact deputies say Riley's child has never been to that hospital.

The Pastor at First Baptist Church Mayfield Wes Fowler says while his church didn't give Riley money for this specific cause, it has given her assistance before.  

“I know we have assisted her in the past, and we are glad to do so. We felt like she was in need," Fowler said. 

Fowler says he doesn't regret helping Riley and her family. He says it's a part of doing what the church is called to do. 

“It's a part of helping those who are in need. Sometimes you're going to get taken advantage of and we know that. That's the foundation. But we always want to err on the side of grace. We've been shown grace and we want to show this lady grace," Fowler said. 

He says, still, even after learning of the scam, he feels compassion for Riley and her family. 

“I felt compassion for her, you know. I can't say that in life I have ever been in her exact same situation, feeling like I had to do that, whatever it was, to take of whatever situation she had," Fowler said. 

This church isn't the only one Riley has approached for help. Pastor Fowler says while it is his job to keep checks on where donations are going, it's not his job to judge the folks who need it.

“That's our responsibility, to do the right thing on our side. We can't always control what someone does on their side. But our responsibility is to take care of them," Fowler said. 

So, he says, he and his church won't let this stop them from help those in need. 

“Pray for her, pray for her son, pray for the situation, pray for others who are genuinely in need and who are not trying to abuse the system," Fowler said. 

Allegedly, once Riley would find a church that was sympathetic to her story, she would make several trips back to the same church.

She had allegedly gotten money as many as three times from the same church.

According to deputies, Riley's husband, Randy Riley, is also believed to have been to area churches and have involvement in alleged scam.

They say they also believe that Riley may have used this same type of story to get money from Calloway County churches.

If anyone is aware of Riley coming to their church, they can call the Graves County Sheriff's Office with information.

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