Woman Accused of Stealing Money Meant for Fire Victims

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SHAMOKIN -- Smoke and flames could be seen for miles when a row of houses on South Rock Street in Shamokin caught fire in December. Melissa Pangburn, 13, died in that fire.

Coal Township Police said Victoria Fortune of Coal Township set up an online donation page for the Pangburn family. Fortune collected more than $1,200, but police said she stole more than half of it and spent in on herself.

"That money that was donated was put into Mrs. Fortune's account and was never donated to the victims," Detective Jeffrey Brennan said.

"Did you really steal from this family? What were you thinking," Reporter Nikki Krize asked. Fortune did not have answers to our questions as she walked into a magistrate's office in Shamokin, but she was a lot more talkative in December when she spoke to Newswatch 16 at the fire scene.

"I feel sorrow for the family. I wish I was here to provide help for them, but all we can do is give our thoughts and prayers to the family," Fortune said.

Friends and neighbors of Melissa Pangburn continue to drop off gifts at her house in Shamokin. Those same people said this case is deeply disturbing.

"It made me sick the first time I heard it to be honest with you," Sean Keegan said.

Sean Keegan said his mom is friends with the Pangburn family and he hopes justice is served.

"How could these people do this to somebody in their time of need? The little girl she was only 13 years old. I can't fathom how someone could sink that low," Keegan said.

"It's disgusting that someone could do that because of someone else's misfortune. They lost their daughter. It's a shame," Carla Backes said.

Coal Township Police said Victoria Fortune did not know the Pangburn family. In court papers she said she started spending the money on herself when she could not find out where the family was staying.


  • lolo

    Obviously there should be some kind of regulations for people starting collections for victims online. This person had no relation to the family, did not notify the family or approach the family at all with a desire to get their approval. If anyone desires to assist any family with a disaster, make sure you either donate to an account set up through a bank. Which you can do as long as you have a family member available to set it up. Or donate to the local Red Cross Chapter. Or in this case donors more than likely could have contacted the school district to ask if a fund was set up there. Prayers to the family for this tragedy.

  • Little Miss 570

    How about if she couldn’t find the family she could have returned the money to those who donated! Obviously she was not looking hard enough for the family! Scam scam scam it’s filthy people like this who make it hard for people to donate to those in need! It’s bad enough the family lost their child and home and now they have to deal with this mess!

  • Rita

    GREED. And so many get away with it. A new law needs to placed on order when these donations for survivors begin.

    I’m a firm believer in what comes around goes around.

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