• Two arrested in Ocala charity scam


    OCALA, Fla. - Two people were arrested after police said they were collecting donations for a fake charity.

    One of the victims, Ellen Hardenbrook, said the man and woman wore uniforms, boots and dogtags, while they sat outside a Big Lots store in Ocala and collected money for the military.

    Hardenbrook gave the couple $50 and got a Marine Corps magnet for her car, but that money never went to help the Marines or any other branch of the military.

    An Ocala police officer who started questioning the couple, who admitted that they were scammers.

    “After that point, the guy was forthcoming with information, he readily admitted it was fake,” said Lt. Lou Biondi with the Ocala Police Department.

    Lt. Biondi said the man told him times were tough and he was doing what he could for money.

    Police believe the pair may have made hundreds of dollars a day over several weeks, and now they're facing felony charges.

    Hardenbrook's out $50, but as the daughter of a Marine, she said it's more than just the money.

    “It makes it hard for people who really want to give to something good,” she said. "The best thing we got right now is our troops and it makes it hard for us to know who to believe and who not anymore. It's really sad.”

    The two suspects, Stephen Concannon and Gloria Woodside, were booked into the Marion County Jail on a felony charge of failing to register prior to soliciting contributions.

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    Two arrested in Ocala charity scam