For additional articles covering OUR, please go to ACJ Investigates- Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
Over the past few weeks, we were piecing a story together regarding the latest $100,000 Coco Berthmann fundraising campaign. Since her arrest on suspected fraud, it looks like a new one is in the works. Even though it’s such a twisted and heartbreaking story- light, hope and courage ultimately comes from of this.
Coco Berthmann’s ruse is up. Not only did she fabricate her sensational Lifetime movie network human trafficking survivor story but fabricated and tried to fundraise for a bogus cancer diagnosis.
Just one thing I’d like to say with today’s developments.
The real heroes and the light in all this madness are the victims of Coco Berthmann. Her mother and sister. The families she stayed with that she leached off of and scammed. Those that were sucked into her human trafficking scam that was destroyed by Lynn Packer and now her bogus cancer diagnosis. Last month she was panhandling on social media for funds to adopt a dog.
Ultimately, these people with loving hearts who in the midst of a pandemic put up their hard-earned cash to help someone in need. People who believed that another suffered so much in life and then was diagnosed with cancer. Often, victims of fraud are in denial, which is why they will put up more money because it’s something they now have to believe in- they’re invested in it. Then once they realize they’ve been scammed, they’re just too embarrassed and ashamed to speak up. The past few weeks I’ve got to hear some of their stories regarding Coco Berthmann and another human trafficking survivor fraud case I’m working on. Prior to that, it was those who had donated and feel they were misled and lied to by Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad.There is nothing to be ashamed of. Your kindness and love for your fellow human being is the light, the redeeming factor in the midst of a disgusting scam. Your courage to come forward to tell your story, whether it’s just to get it off your chest in confidence, to tell the world or coming forward to law enforcement is inspiring. It shows others that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
They’ve done nothing wrong.
My hope is that Coco Berthmann’s arrest doesn’t discourage them. There are legitimate people in need. The world needs more people in the world willing to step up like this in some way.
Yesterday I had a conversation a producer interested in getting the message out to protect a large audience. Our fear was, that Berthmann would go on for years because not only is it difficult to prove, but those getting scammed are so invested they are in denial or too ashamed to come forward. We examined similar cases and some scams went on for years, one with nearly an entire church congregation and many others still donating after she was arrested. It had turned into a major conspiracy theory that dragged out.
The South Jordan Police Department and Salt Lake County District Attorney wasted no time in putting an end to Coco Berthmann’s latest charade.
Berthmann is just one of many scam artists that is exploiting the human sex trafficking craze. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not “one of the fastest growing forms of fraud”. Not only do you have these professional “victims” such as Berthmann and Elizabeth Fraiser, but these militant anti-human sex trafficking organizations like Operation Underground Railroad, which I’ve been covering over two years.
The clock is ticking.