DENVER -- The FOX31 Problem Solvers were contacted by area residents who gave personal information, including driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers, to someone who claimed to be a successful businessman who wanted to help.
But an investigation found the business owner has filed for bankruptcy and has a history of identity theft.
A free offer stood out from the Craigslist advertisements.
It said, “Immediate financial assistance available now ... for rent, food and baby items.” If you need help, attend an “enrollment meeting” at a Denver library and “bring your Social Security card and/or driver’s license.”
A single mother is one of more than one dozen people who attended the meeting.
“All of us who responded were definitely in need," she said. "I didn’t think we were going to get duped because we were all there because we were in a financial bind.”
The needy who attended the meeting gave their personal information to Spencer Shaver, who promised the participants they would receive grant money.
Shaver said the grants were provided by EFS Colorado.org, a program sponsored by EFS Development. Spencer claimed EFS Development is an organization made up of generous business people who want to help “change lives.”
“He sounded like a good person and I believed him," a meeting participant said.
But the weeks turned into months and the money never arrived.
A participant named Doreen posted her own Craigslist ad encouraging anyone who felt they had been scammed by Shaver to contact the FOX31 Problem Solvers.
She received several responses, including one from Shaver who challenged us to email him anytime. The email we sent came back undeliverable and phone calls to Shaver were not returned.
His criminal background reveals a conviction for identity theft in 2012. According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, it arrested Shaver for using a stolen Social Security card, a bad check and phony address to buy a new car.
The Problem Solvers went looking for Shaver to answer our questions:
Hemmat: “You put out an ad that says if you can’t pay your rent …”
Hemmat: If you can’t pay your car.
Hemmat: If you’re desperate.
Shaver: Come see me.
Hemmat: What’s the name of your business?
Shaver: My business?
Hemmat: Who are your clients right now who are donating money?
Shaver: My clients right now? That’s part of my client list. That’s proprietary information.
Hemmat: You’ve taken more than 10 people’s driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers and personal information. You have a history of identity theft. Why should I believe you?
Shaver: You are the Emmy award-winning investigative reporter, you should be skeptical, but as far as believing me, believe in the proof. That we are actually helping people.
Shaver did explain the identity theft conviction was nothing more than a misunderstanding. He also said he is really giving away money from his personal business clients.
“I just don’t want it to happen to anybody else," a participant said.
Shaver provided the name of one person he claimed to have helped. The woman would not talk on camera. If you feel like you are a victim, file a complaint with the Denver District Attorney’s Office.