New Plum Legion commander scammed
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Nancy Kunkel makes it her mission to help veterans in need.
When she received a telephone call on July 5 from a man who identified himself as a U.S. Army sergeant who needed money to return from the Pittsburgh area to his base in Fort Bragg, N.C., Kunkel, 54, of Plum, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was eager to help.
Little did Kunkel, who in September begins a one-year term as the first female commander of the Plum American Legion, know at the time that the man's story was not true.
Plum police have charged Miles Shoumake, 43, of Second Avenue, Pittsburgh, with two counts of theft by deception, receiving stolen property and identity theft. Shoumake is in the Allegheny County Jail on $25,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday before Plum District Judge Linda Zucco.
Kunkel, who in 2009 retired as a colonel with the U.S. Air Force, said the man later identified as Shoumake told her he was U.S. Army Sgt. William Coble.
The man told Kunkel he was visiting in the area to visit his father's grave at National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County. He said his pay and paperwork were “messed up” since his return from Afghanistan, she said.
The man said he would be considered absent without leave if he didn't return to Fort Bragg in two days, Kunkel said.
Kunkel agreed to meet the man later that day at the Motel 6 in Crafton.
The man showed Kunkel a military identification that had a photo that she said resembled the man, and she gave him $160 of her personal funds.
Kunkel said later in the day she was contacted by Allegheny County police who said the man, identified as Shoumake, had been arrested on unrelated charges. Kunkel said Shoumake had her contact information when he was arrested because he was supposed to repay her.
Shoumake also was carrying Coble's military identification. Coble's badge had been reported stolen June 6 from Russellville, Ark., according to the Plum police report. Plum police Chief Frank Monaco advises anyone who is asked for help by someone who claims to be a member of the military should verify the veteran's identity by contacting a military base or veteran organization.
“It makes you kind of leery about helping anyone,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel said in the future she would advise individuals asking for financial help to contact their military reserve base.
“I would not get involved personally,” Kunkel said.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Holiday Park Elementary groundbreaking soggy, optimistic
- Plum school board OKs new bus-route plotting software
- Plum Community center makes name change to appeal to all ages
- Former Plum mayor, who helped establish borough EMS, dies
- Plum School Board names new president
- Plum patrol cars get new cameras with added capabilities