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Officials: Polk County man created fake veterans charity to steal thousands of dollars in donations

Posted: 11:20 AM, Jan 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-06 00:01:34Z

A Polk County man has been arrested after he reportedly pocketed thousands of dollars in donations from a fake veterans charity he called "Power to Our Vets."

Christopher Edwards, 49, claimed his charity helped veterans with their power bills by selling solar power to area power companies. 

State Attorney Brian Haas announced the arrest on Friday.

"Edwards earned the trust of many in the community by falsely claiming to have business partnerships with many of our respected local and regional corporations, including TECO and Duke Energy. In reality, he was stealing from local businesses and residents, including veterans, to line his own pockets" according to officials.

Investigators say Edwards created social media accounts and had a detailed website for his "charity." 

Investigators found Edwards would deposit the money collected into his own bank accounts. 

In March of 2016, Edwards reportedly held a raffle for a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. Officials say he sold thousands of dollars worth of tickets, but the winner of the motorcycle was never able to claim his prize, despite paying the sales tax on the bike. In November of 2016 he held the same raffle and the same person won. That person still hasn't received a prize and the Harley Davidson Dealer says they lost the ability to sell the bike for more than a year. 

The State Attorney office says Edwards stole thousands of dollars in the name of our veterans, but say $46 was actually given to a veteran by Edwards. 

Edwards' first appearance hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday in Bartow. 

Investigators believe there are more victims, such as businesses and people who bought raffle tickets from Edwards. 

If you think you are a victim or know someone who could be a victim of Edwards' scheme, please call Investigator Steve Menge at 863-534-4920.