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Sharpton's Atlanta HQ admits handing out possibly bogus stimulus check forms

8:30 PM, Sep 30, 2011   |    comments
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Fulton County government video showing Vanessa Emerson handing out stimulus check form at Atlanta headquarters of National Action Network

ATLANTA - So far, no one has proven it's a scam, but they haven't proven it's for real either.

This week more than 700 senior citizens filled out a rather skimpy form promising a $500 check from the American Opportunities Stimulus Program.

They filled in sensitive information like their name, address, birth date and social security numbers, all with the promise of getting a Visa Check card in return.

But on Thursday, Fulton County government put out a warning that it might be an identity theft scam.

They even sent their own camera crew to the Atlanta headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, where the forms were being handed out by Vanessa Emerson and her son, Brandon.

In the video Vanessa Emerson can be seen brandishing a photo copy of a U.S. Treasury check saying, "I'm going to show ya'll, I got my money."

After the alarm went out, Brandon Emerson returned hundreds of the forms to the NAN headquarters at 632 Peoples Street so they could be given back to the seniors who filled them out.

Even though his mother was wearing a NAN T-shirt in the Fulton County government video, her son claimed they are not affiliated with the organization.

Worried seniors continued to stream to the local NAN headquarters on Friday fearing someone may be trying to steal their identities.

"I am scared and I'm going to the bank now and put a fraudulent lock on my account," senior Bobbie Early told 11 Alive News on Friday.

Eventually the Southeast Regional Director for NAN showed up at the headquarters and began reassuring seniors no one was going to compromise the information.

Tyleis Speight admitted to 11 Alive News the forms had been collected there, but claimed she was a victim, too.

"National Action Network has been frauded as well," Speight said.

She said they're still trying to find out who was responsible.

Reached by phone on Friday, Vanessa Emerson said she and her son had no idea the forms they'd been collecting might be fake.

She said they were going out of town and would comment more when they return next week.

The national NAN office insisted they knew nothing about what had happened.

"We had no knowledge of what was going on," said NAN Executive Director Tamika Mallory.

"We would never authorize anything like that," she added.

Mallory said NAN's attorneys are doing their own investigation.

So are Atlanta Police who say they are still trying to determine what crime, if any, may have been committed.

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