To Top

A $2 Millon Donation to Puerto Rico Hurricane Victims Turns Out as Fraud!

The name Emilio Saralles first hit the tabloids when it was announced by Ellen Degeneres on Television during the We are One Voice – Somos Live! charity concert. Apperantly, the member of a wealthy Puerto Rican family was going to donate $2 million to the victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Jennifer Lopez After Bringing Celebrities Together for SOMOS Live! 

Emilio had supposedly become a part of a group of volunteers in Miami who were organizing charities and donation campaigns for the victims in Puerto Rico and claimed to be a wealthy member of the wealthy Puerto Rican, Saralles family. In his efforts for the hurricane victims, Emilio rented various warehouses and chartered flights to help store and transport donations and relief goods.

Los Angeles, Oct. 14, Somos Live!

A Generous Criminal?

Up until this point, the thought never crossed anybody’s mind that the supposed member of the wealthy Saralles family who was chartering private flights and travelling with celebrities and TV hosts to visit flood victims with relief goods was in fact a wanted fugitive with a criminal record.

Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria, Sep. 2017

According to charges pressed against him, Emilio had defrauded two property companies of $500,000 for unpaid warehouse leases and is also accused of fraud by Global Aviation Link, both of whom claim that the man supposedly paid them though bogus fake checks. Global Aviation claims that it is owed $400,000 since they had already paid their pilots, bought landing rights and paid for transportation costs, etc.

A deeper look into the man’s background revealed the true identity of Emilio Ismael Vasquez who is a wanted felon in Orange County with an outstanding arrest warrant on grounds of failing to adhere to his probation condition when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of fraud.

At that time, he had been convicted for attempted purchase of three properties using bogus checks, making his rental payments using fraudulent checks and siphoning the bank account and monetary possessions of his father. Furthermore, the real Seralles family rejected the imposter as a part of the family, refuted any such claims of relations and denounced his criminal activities.

A Fraud in the Guise of a Donation

Emilio Vazquez first joined the relief efforts and volunteers on September 22nd during an ongoing campaign to raise money and charitable goods for the hurricane victims. On that day, the volunteers received a call from a stranger who claimed to be offering $2 million for the victims along with an airplane for transportation, an offer that seemed so incredible they rushed to note down the caller’s information.

Following this revelation and filled with hope, the volunteers set up a Puerto Rico Relief Committee and soon afterwards contractual discussions were ongoing with real estate companies for warehouse leasing and with Global aviation for transportation. One key thing to note in this case is that Vazquez chartered the planes from Friday the 6th to Monday the 9th of October, with the bank payment checks being signed on Friday the 6th  which meant that it would take until at least Tuesday for the checks to be cashed from the bank since Monday was a holiday.

By Wednesday the 11th of October, the banks contacted the real estate companies and Global Aviation to inform them about the bogus checks, but it was already too late. By the time the companies informed their airplanes and pilots, the last of the chartered airplanes had already taken off from Puerto Rico. Some of the shipments were indeed stopped midway at the airports and subsequently are still sitting unattended at shipping areas with no one coming forward to acknowledge ownership.

Locals and Volunteers helping the Hurricane Irma Victims

An Elaborate Fraud with no Financial Motive?

A large number of people wonder why Emilio went to such lengths for the impersonation and donation fraud when there was no obvious monetary motive behind it or any financial gain to be had. Furthermore, there is no proof the Emilio had stolen any of the donation money or even accepted outside monetary donations.

Since the story was broken by a news network, many people tried to unsuccessfully contact Emilio for his thoughts on the matter and one reporter even went to an apartment complex in Miami where the accused was thought to have been residing, only to find that the man living there under the alias of Emilio Perez was out of town.

Vazquez was eventually confronted by victims of the fraud but refused to answer any questions, asking them only to speak to his lawyers for any explanations. The lawyer in question, Anthony Accetta, refused to have any involvement with Emilio and denies that there is any legal arrangement between the two, claiming that Emilio did approach him for legal counsel but was denied because Anthony told him he was aware about his identity fraud.

Fraud victims and volunteers recount that in their last communication with him through text messages, Emilio insisted that he had to leave for London because his daughter had died, but according to his orange county criminal records, his sister claims that he has no daughters and has used his daughter’s death as a plan of escape in numerous instances.

Was he trying to be a modern Robin Hood or just returned to his old ways?

More in Real Estate