FOLSOM (CBS13) – Through weeks of investigation, officers learned that a man who claimed to be a victim of a racially-charged assault by several men actually suffered his injuries from a fall, the Folsom Police Department said on Thursday.
The department said its communications center received a 911 call just after 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 9 from the man who said he was assaulted and robbed of a credit card in the area of Scott Street and Canal Street.
The man suffered injuries to his jaw and mouth but had difficulty remembering what had happened to him, claiming he had been drinking earlier that night, police said.
Over the course of the following days, the man began reporting that the robbery and assault were the result of a racially charged attack by a group of men, police said.
He initially described his attacker as a white man with black hair and light-colored clothing.
Folsom police said the man continued to provide a lack of information, which led to officers locating surveillance footage, witnesses and any additional evidence from the alleged incident. Local businesses and residents assisted officers in the investigation, which led to officers discovering no attack or robbery took place and the man had been injured due to falling in the area.
"It's terrible because there are so many people that actually experience that kind of action and people that lie about it make it harder for people who actually experience to be believed," said Folsom resident, Pamela Migaeed.
The alleged victim, Romey Kang, raised $20,408 after he posted his alleged assault story on GoFundMe.
"That's outrageous," local resident Victoria Mcleod said. "To take all that money from people who support you and believe you!"
Criminal defense attorney, Linda Parisi, believes Kang could face several charges for making a false report and fraud association with crowdfunding.
"That's a completely fabricated claim that it was a racially motivated attack. That would seem to be a fairly straightforward case both in the criminal court with a higher standard of proof as well as a civil court," Parisi explained.
If charged and convicted, Parisi explained the consequences could range in severity.
"It could very anywhere between a fine and time, if they pursued a felony fraud, in prison," she explained. "On the one hand certainly lesser criminal liability if one is under the influence, not thinking clearly, not a well thought out response. As opposed to a deliberate attempt to establish circumstances to set up a GoFundMe page."
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Police said there are no suspects that pose a threat to the community and the man who reported the false crime had been contacted and notified of the officers' findings.
Kang declined to comment on the case but tells CBS13 that he has hired a lawyer.
In a statement, GoFundMe said it is investigating the fundraiser and the company takes all complaints seriously.
"Fundraisers with misuse are very rare and in the rare instance that someone does create a misleading fundraiser with the intention of taking advantage of others' generosity, GoFundMe takes swift action to resolve the issue," GoFundMe said in a statement.
A spokesperson said donors can request a refund.
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