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Scam Artist Targets Long Island, Unites Bahamians In Protest (Facebook)
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Posted by:Apr 20th 2011, 03:54:01 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThis past Tuesday evening on FACEBOOK turned into a jaw-dropping experience for many Bahamian and expat fans of the Bahamas as they stumbled upon Mardie Caldwell’s BAHAMAS MISSION TRIP page, dated March 28, 2011.

Ms. Caldwell was actively pleading on the World Wide Web for desperate funds to be sent via PayPal and care packages to be forwarded to her post office box in Nevada City, California for the people of Long Island, Bahamas. Say what?

They read the headline again.

“Lifetime Foundation has started a specific fund to assist the women & children living on a forgotten island between Haiti and Cuba. These communities often have little water or government assistance, few opportunities for special education and a lack of employment opportunities. The results are often, high rates of abuse and poverty.” -- Mardie Caldwell

Readers flipped through photograph after photograph of beautiful, clean, healthy, Bahamian children of the so-called underprivileged in a small settlement in Long Island. The captions, courtesy of Ms. Caldwell, were some of the most deliberately deceitful and craftily-coordinated that most readers had ever seen. One photograph depicted a well-kept, healthy young girl walking with water jugs, a site quite common to Out Islanders, featuring the doomsday note, “This little girl is going to gather parasite-infested water that her younger siblings will drink, that is, if there is any in the well today. There is little water in this settlement and everyone here is so ill. If anyone knows about grants or corporate sponsors that can help me please let me know.” All of the other captions were written in the same exaggerated tone, with the full intent of portraying the situation in Long Island as dire and life-threatening.

We’ve certainly seen our share of hucksters and snake-oil salesmen over the years attempt to fund their annual Bahamian vacations in the Out Islands on the backs of the unsuspecting charity public through a variety of "social" ruses, but this deliberate deceit was novel in its cunning. Many Bahamians on Facebook invited friend after friend to witness this brazen con. We the public bombarded her with comment after comment, letting her know that we were fully aware of her unscrupulous attempt to exploit the people of the settlement that she claimed to be helping.

Caldwell launched into a practiced spiel of how and her “all-volunteer” team of eleven adults and children were doing “God’s work in Long Island: why weren’t we there to help; people are desperate; could we all come and help or donate” … etc. etc. Many of us told her point blank to leave our country as we soon discovered that she had not only launched the first Facebook page, but had also created a second one specifically promoting the adoption of children, this one filled with the very same photos of Bahamian children she deemed desperate.

We then discovered through our research and realized as a team that Ms. Caldwell manages several not-for-profit 501c3 corporations in the USA that offer tax deductions to sponsors making donations to her various causes. As it turns out, Ms. Caldwell is also rather conveniently licensed as an Adoption Facilitator who markets her services to Single Black Women as well as others around the World. We the readers demanded that the photos of our Bahamian children be removed immediately from that second site as she was actively exploiting the very people she claimed to be helping and on whose behalf was actively pleading for funds and goods. When asked her whether she had proof of parental consent to publish the photos of unsuspecting mothers and their children in intimate home settings such as their bedrooms and living rooms, Ms. Caldwell changed the subject.

As our questions became more targeted, her initial story began to crumble: at first, she spoke of helping the “forgotten island.” Once we pointed out that Long Island was hardly forgotten, she began referring to “two settlements in the south” and eventually launched yet a third explanation of only helping a few of her friends while she was on vacation. At that point, we enquired as to why the entire world had to be put on broadcast that she was just helping out a few of her friends? Why did she need to go through the paperwork and charade of setting up a PayPal account specifically for her various stated beneficiaries, namely the Island Women and Childrens Fund for the Bahamas Mission? Why had she not registered her intentions with the Bahamas Red Cross, a local charity on Long Island or even met with local government to discuss the situation? As of press time, local government and area police were unaware of her charity work, and area schools and churches were under the impression that she was a visiting writer who had brought eleven of her friends to visit the island. No one on Long Island was aware that their children’s photographs were splashed on several websites online, much less understood that she was actively soliciting funds on their so-called behalf.

Upon closer examination and continued interrogation, Ms. Caldwell began to claim that “in truth” she did all of her charitable works out of her pocket. Our point had been made: it was quite clear that her original intention was to in fact actively solicit and receive donations of funds and goods on behalf of the “people of the south” as she then began referring to the people in Dunmores Town, Long Island. Ms. Caldwell then avoided altogether mentioning the name of the island in her Facebook posts, referring to it only as L.I. and its residents as “the people of the south,” which appeared to be a distraction tactic provided for other members of the Facebook page that from the tone of their commentary had apparently been supporting her cause.

Bahamians are fully aware of the potable water issues in some of our Out Islands but, on Tuesday night, we underscored to Ms. Caldwell that she had quite deliberately showed photographs of abandoned wells that obviously had not been used for years: she herself admitted that many living within that same settlement now have running water. As a community we pointed out that her original fundraising claims of actively fixing cisterns and wells and purchasing water for the “malnourished, parasite-infested children” she so desperately needed funds to help were overwrought and unfounded.

We were completely taken aback at her recent claims in Bahamian media of having received death threats on Facebook: none of us saw any such communications, and in fact, we have saved the exchanges on an external hard drive for all to review. We did tell her in no uncertain terms what we thought of her obvious deceit. But Ms. Caldwell, apparently no stranger to such scams, immediately turned on the defensive by suggesting we had responded to her in the manner in which we did because we were embarrassed that an American had "had" to come in to "help, the people of the South on the forgotten island between Haiti and Cuba."

Ms. Caldwell, we would just like to say that in The Bahamas "all a we is one family" connected one family to the other, and when the chips are really down, we stand and defend our brothers and sisters. If they need help and are in dire straits as you portrayed them, we will find out and help, and for that we thank you. Our question for our Bahamian society after this particular experience, though, how is it possible, acceptable or permitted that any "glossy smile with a bag full of gifts" can come into our country, set up a charitable foundation, solicit funds on our behalf and work in our country without any control or oversight whatsoever?

We are genuinely concerned about the children of The Bahamas and do appreciate any outsider with a sincere concern for the children of these islands. But the manner in which this lady has reportedly been seeking to help our children is seriously suspect. In this country, we have an established Social Services Department responsible for dealing with the needs of our children. If there is a serious and immediate need in this area of Long Island, Ms. Caldwell should have by all rights contacted this department as well as local government, which would have been the proper thing to do.

Mardie Caldwell did perhaps share a few gifts with the children of Dunmores and in fact may have cleaned up several unused cisterns and wells, but plastering their photographs all over the World Wide Web and begging for monies on their behalf seems frankly disingenuous. We wish Mardie Caldwell safe travels back to California with her “volunteers” – whom we later discovered to be members of her family on vacation --- but we would very much appreciate an apology for the recent slanderous and derogatory portrayal of our Long Island. We are taking steps to report her illicit fundraising activities to the Internal Revenue Service in the USA, so as to confirm that such activity not happen again anytime soon.

In the meantime, we strongly suggest that Ms. Caldwell consider doing her “charitable work” for the “people of the south” in her own town of Nevada City, California, which may inconveniently not feature our renowned pink sand beaches and aquamarine waters. Judging from another one of her not-for-profit fundraising endeavors, though, the panning for gold and gems workshop that she regularly promotes might just be emblematic of this entire tawdry episode.

Mardie Caldwell’s various organizations:
Lifetime Adoption Fund
The Mardi Caldwell Page
Let's Talk Adoption Fund
Open Adoption Fund

Signed unCHARITABLE~The Facebook group who witnessed all of Mardie Caldwell's posts.

Photo album referenced:

You are invited to view Patrick's photo album: MARDIE CALDWELL-PHOTOS AND SCREEN PRINTS ABOUT LONG ISLAND

MARDIE CALDWELL-PHOTOS AND SCREEN PRINTS ABOUT LONG ISLAND

Apr 6, 2011
by Patrick

View Album
Play slideshow

If you are having problems viewing these photographs and screen shots of Miz Caldwell's original presentation online, copy and paste the following into your browser:
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=lightbox242&target=ALBUM&id=5592464081602768593&authkey=Gv1sRgCLTchZ641pa5MA&feat=email

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