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Woman solicits money for a boy’s heart surgery — but he had it years ago, Utah police say

A woman shown in a store surveillance photo seeking donations from Utah businesses for an 8-year-old boy’s heart surgery has no connection to the family, and he had the surgery years ago, Harrisville police say.
A woman shown in a store surveillance photo seeking donations from Utah businesses for an 8-year-old boy’s heart surgery has no connection to the family, and he had the surgery years ago, Harrisville police say. Harrisville Police Department

An 8-year-old boy needs life-saving heart surgery that his family cannot afford, reads a flier passed out at Utah businesses, reported KUTV.

“Please help us keep this sweet, precious boy healthy, so that he can have many more years ahead of him. He lightens up our day every morning we get to see him,” reads the flier beneath a photo of Teagan Stewart of Harrisville, Utah, according to the station.

The flier promotes a July 31 raffle with prizes including an Amazon Kindle to raise money for a surprise donation to the family, KUTV reported.

News of the flier certainly came as a surprise to Amanda Stewart, Teagan’s mother. He had the surgeries years ago and the family has never met the woman passing out the fliers, she told the station.

“It’s just heartbreaking because it’s not her story,” Amanda Stewart told KUTV.

On Monday, Harrisville police posted a surveillance camera photo of the woman seeking donations on behalf of Teagan Stewart to Facebook.

Police on Wednesday identified her as Melissa White, reported KSL-TV. They have spoken to White but she has not been charged or arrested, police said, according to the station.

“I do believe the family had a GoFundMe operation going on (at some point) and I think Ms. White saw that, took advantage of the situation, and we’re going to follow it as far as it takes us,” Police Chief Max Jackson told KSL-TV.

He asked that anyone who donated money to White contact them at 801-629-8221 or by email at police@cityofharrisville.com, reported the station.

Police think she asked for money at a Walmart and Chik-fil-A in Ogden as well as at a shopping mall in Logan, reported KUTV.

Teagan Stewart was born with a rare heart condition and has undergone three open-heart surgeries, reported KSTU. He will someday need a heart transplant but is currently healthy.

“We’ve been living a couple of years of living just smooth and not having any issues, and this comes up and it just brings everything back,” Amanda Stewart said, according to the station.

She said she hoped the apparent scam would not deter people from donating to worthy causes, reported KSTU.

“Make sure it’s legit,” Amanda Stewart said, according to the station. “If you think it’s concerning, like the information is incorrect, check it.”

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