KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City woman and her employees have been permanently banned from operating a charity after a Jackson County judge ruled that they had scammed people out of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming to be building them homes.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed suit against the charity after an investigation by FOX4 Problem Solvers exposed the web of deceit surrounding Vinelanders Community Land Trust and its founder Alice Goodlow.
Goodlow promised members that if they paid Vinelanders $20 a month they would eventually own a home.
“Everybody was promised a house,” said Kristy Mitchell, who was a member until she realized she was being scammed.
Vinelanders’ leadership told Mitchell and others that the $20 in monthly dues would be pooled together to finance the building of a house for each member of the trust.
With each passing year, Vinelanders claimed more and more homes had been constructed and soon it would be someone else’s turn to own one. Mitchell asked repeatedly to see one of the completed homes, but was always told no.
A Problem Solvers investigation uncovered that in eight years of operation the charity had not built a single home. All the money Vinelanders collected went to pay the salaries, vendors and operating cots of the supposed charity.
In a default judgment, Vinelanders and Alice Goodlow were ordered last month to repay more than $40,000 taken from the public in 2017-2018 and pay another $13,000 in fees and penalties to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for violating the state’s consumer protection law.