This one hurts and I’ve got a mix of emotions swirling inside. As you know, the ReesSpecht Life Foundation has always been about spreading kindness and positively impacting the world. Life threw me a curveball recently, and it turns out – I have trouble with the curve… As such, I felt it’s important to open up to you, our incredible community, because you’ve been there with us and our mission through thick and thin.
It’s never easy to talk about times when trust is shattered. I’ve always believed in the goodness of people and the power of coming together to make a difference. In some ways, because this is how I choose to see the world, I mistakenly assume that everyone sees the world this way. It’s precisely this thinking that helped create the ReesSpecht Life Foundation – and it’s precisely this thinking that allowed someone to take advantage of me and the foundation…
About six months ago, I started the process of looking for grant offerings to help support our two school programs, “Cultivate Kindness” and “ReesSpecht the Water”. My dream has always been to offer the programs for free, but I could never seem to get to a place to make that happen on my own. After years of trying on my own, several people mentioned applying for grant money. It sounded great in theory, but since I had no experience with grant writing, I thought this would be something worth contracting out to a professional. After several members of our board and friends mentioned hiring a freelance grant writer, I did just that, using a reputable freelancer website to hire a highly reviewed and trusted grant writer.
After a thorough search (and one false start), the foundation hired a Grant Writer on a freelance work website who had fantastic reviews and came highly recommended. This person, “Laura” (who I believed to be a freelancer working out of California), did some real work for us at first, building my confidence and developing trust in “her” work.
She completed several tasks for us on the Freelance website, but when we re-hired her for the biggest job (Actually applying for the grants), she sent me a private message stating she was leaving the network and wanted to work with us 1 on 1. Naively, and because I guess I trust in the goodness of people too much, I agreed…
When it came time to apply for several grants, I supplied her with what I thought was necessary financial and personal information. I began to grow suspicious after “she” asked me for my personal “id.me” login information. After several attempts to get proper justification for her wanting that exceedingly private info (that I literally wouldn’t give out to my own Mother) “Laura” made one more attempt to buck my waning trust.
She asked for another chance to prove herself and tried to access the files we shared with her on google drive but made one mistake: she used her REAL email address that was for “Viktor” , which a quick Google search showed was from Nigeria.
When I confronted her (him??) about it, “Laura” made up some crazy story and eventually ghosted me.
In the meantime, she got away with over $2000 in foundation funds, $400 of which we hopefully will be able to get back. Additionally, my wife Samantha has already gotten three different letters from banks about people trying to open credit accounts in her name. I have since had to pay for protection from a credit-monitoring/ID-Theft protection service. I don’t care about what I have to spend personally – but it’s a different story when it comes to the foundation. The loss of this money means we cannot hire an actual grant writer to help us grow. We are now back to square one and out over $2000.00 in the process. It’s eating me up to see the foundation being hurt in a way that is antithetical to everything we stand for…
The Heartbreak and the Fire Within:
I can’t deny it; this hit me hard. I feel betrayed, hurt, and lost. A big part of me is ashamed that I allowed myself (and, more importantly, the foundation) get hurt this way. But you know what they say about being knocked down? It’s about finding the strength to get back up. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve been through tough times before, and each time, I emerged stronger with the help of all of Rees’ pieces. This time won’t be any different.
The Uphill Battle:
Reaching out to the bank and authorities after discovering the deceitful act, I was determined to fight back and find justice. I reached out to the authorities, believing they would help us seek retribution against the scammer who betrayed our trust. We made some headway with the bank, but they can only help us get about $400 back. As for the authorities? The response I received was disheartening. They merely shrugged and told me, “Good luck.” – and that my options were limited because of the fact they are in Nigeria. But you know what? I don’t believe in relying on luck when an incredible community supports us. With your unwavering support, we can overcome this obstacle and stand strong once again.
I’m reaching out to you, our amazing Rees’ pieces, because we’re in this together. Your love and compassion have always fueled our journey. Today, I’m not just asking for financial help. I’m asking for your hand, your heart, and your spirit to rebuild what we lost. Let’s show the world what resilience truly means. We have put together a GoFundMe to try and recoup some of the lost funds to hire a grant writer to help us get the necessary funding to grow our programs. You can find the campaign HERE. We appreciate anything you can donate to help us recover from this awful situation. All donations made through GoFundMe will go to the ReesSpecht Life Foundation and are tax-deductible.
How You Can Be Part of Our Story and Help Us Prove that Kindness Matters:
Share our experience: I believe in the power of stories, and mine is no exception. Share this part of my journey with your friends, family, and anyone who needs a reminder that: 1) Scammers can be quite good at what they do, but they can’t really ever defeat you. 2) That kindness can overcome even the toughest challenges.
Believe in the Power of Kindness: The ReesSpecht Life Foundation has always been about kindness, and that won’t change. Let’s keep spreading kindness, inspiring compassion, and changing lives along the way.
Life has its ups and downs, but how we face those moments defines who we are. As I navigate this difficult chapter, I’m grateful for each and every one of you. Your support has been a beacon of hope, and it’s the reason I believe we can come out of this stronger.
Thank you for being part of my journey, and for standing with me through the good and the challenging times. Together, we can show that kindness can heal wounds and make the world a better place, one Rees’ piece at a time…
Rich Specht, Founder of ReesSpecht Life Foundation
If you would like to donate to our gofundme you can do so, safely and securely, right here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/reesspecht-life-rebuilding-hope-after-scam