Vivian Jackson was one of those scammed by fake grant writer accused of ‘hoodwinking’ over 30 churches and other non-profit organizations out of more than $200,000 plus. Scam artist to be sentenced May 4.
Last June 5 Vivian Jackson held a big ribbon cutting to announce the upcoming “Inside The Rainbow” community complex. Several months ago she hosted a well attended community meeting to introduce new designs for the facility. She was, she believed, just one more step closer to realizing her dream of providing children with a safe alternative to the streets and offering spiritual guidance to adults and young people in times of need. She was especially excited about the facility’s planned skating rink, as were many of the children at the most recent community gathering. Inside the Rainbow was to be a much needed one-stop recreational and spiritual establishment on the city’s East side.
But that dream, along with the hopes and dreams of several Black churches and other nonprofits, turned into to a nightmare reality when the alleged “grant writer” they had all trusted and paid to deliver, was arrested for fraud. State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that Christina Gordon of Buffalo has been accused of posing as a grant writer and successful fundraiser who convinced over 30 organizations that she had applied for and received state-awarded grants on their behalf. She charged fees for her services, establishing a fictitious staff and stole more than $200,000 from area Black churches, non profits and local businesses.
The lies, false promises and fake “proof” that the grant money was coming, led the churches and groups to spend over $345,000 in Capital Improvement projects while they waited for grants that did not exist. She even posed as Schneiderman, sending letters to groups, which were fake. Gordon is said to have spent the stolen money on travel, clothing and jewelry. She has pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, a scheme to defraud in the first degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. According to the Attorney General’s office, Gordon, a repeat felon, has criminal record dating back to 1989 and has spent time in federal prison.
She was released last January (2017) and shortly afterwards started her scam after getting a job at a church. Gordon will be sentenced May 4 to 7 ½ to 15 Years in Prison “I really thought she was my friend,” said Vivian. Her home church, Elim Christian Fellowship, was also hit hard by the scam artist. Another church she scammed, Good Shepherd Temple of Christ, was left with its roof half complete after it was discovered that the repair money didn’t exist. An anonymous donor recently gave the church enough to get the roof fixed.
Vivian, an established business woman and proprietor of Cookieland child care facility admits being disappointed, but remains strong in her faith. She has not taken her eyes off the prize despite being victimized. “My dream is still real,” she said with conviction, “because it’s God’s plan. I believe my dream will still come true.This experience only made me stronger and made me wiser.”