A school has been left in shock after it embarked on a spending spree following a N300m donation from a millionaire only for them to discover that it was all a fake.
Scammer: The Alleged Wall Street financier Juan Diaz Romero mugshot from 1998
Students and teachers at a Brooklyn high school thought they had hit the jackpot last year when a mysterious “millionaire” benefactor turned up with an unprecedented gift a month before Christmas.
According to New York Post, it looked like everything the school wanted has come to reality. The school embarked a a serious spending spree. But, it all became a mirage after the $1.5 million check, delivered by a man who identified himself as Wall Street financier, Juan Diaz Romero, bounced.
It was gathered that the shocking drama started in November, when the school received the staggering check and forwarded it to the Department of Education, as protocol required.
But it wasn’t deposited until January, sources said.
In the meantime, the DOE provided funds from the generous “gift” to the 1,000-student school, which went on a spending spree.
When teachers were being trained on using smart boards, Diaz Romero was brought in and introduced as “our benefactor Dr. Diaz.”
Sources said he claimed to be related to one of the students, explaining his largesse. At his urging, the school also started a stock-market game to hone students’ financial skills.
Even after the check was returned, officials were confident their donor was the real thing. So they asked for a replacement check. When that one, too, bounced, officials finally became suspicious.
Those suspicions were confirmed at a stock market game event last month when the “millionaire donor” wrote yet another check, this time for $10 million, he said was intended for the school’s use in 2017. That prompted schools officials to contact authorities.
Principal Holger Carrillo called an emergency meeting with school staffers last week to inform them of the bizarre scam.
In the meeting, Carrillo claimed everything had been done by the book and with the DOE’s blessing.
A complaint was forwarded to Schools Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon’s office on May 27. Suspecting a crime had been committed, Condon referred the case to the NYPD, an SCI spokeswoman said.
The DOE confirmed Diaz Romero was a donor dud.
“The school received a donation from this donor, which was rejected when deposited. We referred the matter to the Special Commissioner of Investigation,” the DOE said in a statement, referring additional questions to Condon’s office.
Officials didn’t say how much the DOE advanced the school from its own funds.
Betrayed school staffers and students are now worried they will face budget cuts because of the philanthropic scandal.
“Sounds like a person that just uses people and don’t care about anybody else’s feelings,” said Dominick Spies, a 17-year-old senior.
Estafano Santana, 15, chimed in, “I feel like the school was robbed.”
Diaz Romero could not be reached for comment.