Charlotte County Sheriff's Economic Crimes Unit detectives arrested a North Port woman for defrauding a Port Charlotte church saying her four sons were killed in Middle East wars.
Shirley Ann Duncan, 49, 2124 Briant St., was arrested for scheme to defraud and criminal use of personal identification information.
CCSO received a call Oct. 26 from Duncan's son who is in the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, Ky., saying his mother used his identity to defraud the Community Life Center Church, 19048 Edgewater Drive, out of money by claiming he had been killed in the war.
Shirley Ann Duncan
Nicanol "Nick" Collazo said his mother had been collecting money and other benefits from the church claiming he was killed in the Iraq/Afghanistan in 2010. He said she even had a memorial service at the church to honor his death and that of three brothers serving in the Army. Collazo told detectives he has one brother and has never served in the military.
Duncan reportedly obtained photos of her son in uniform off his Facebook page and presented it to the church to perpetrate the fraud. Duncan collected more than $1,000, including donated housewares, clothing and furniture as a result of the deception.
Detectives said the church asked Duncan for documentation on the deaths and she presented a fraudulent letter from the Secretary of War informing her that her son was killed Aug. 13, 2010. The phony letter was signed by Adjutant Gen. J.A. Ulio - who died more than 50 years ago.
Duncan was asked to provide photos of her four dead soldiers for a special memorial service Oct. 23, 2012, at the church. Duncan reportedly provided Collazo's photo and three other random photos of soldiers taken from the Internet.
The church discovered Duncan had been deceiving them and church members reached out to Duncan to tell her they knew what was going on but would not condemn her. They also asked Duncan to come back to church but she refused.
ECU detectives met Jan. 18 with church Pastor Mark Coffey, who cooperated with the investigation but would not prosecute.
Detectives met with Duncan Jan. 24 and she reportedly admitted telling the church she had four sons killed in the war, collected money from the church and presented the bogus death notification letter, but denied any wrongdoing.
Duncan transported to the Charlotte County Jail where she remains on $5,000 bond.