A benefit garage sale turned out to be a hoax


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

BENTON, Ill. - A woman hosted a garage sale claiming all proceeds were going to the "Justice for Molly" cause turned out to be a scam.

Molly Young was found dead in a Carbondale apartment back in 2011.

Last Saturday, Donna Restivo hosted the sale at her home on Webster Street in Benton, Illinois.

She told customers that the money was to go to the Young family so they could afford to purchase a tombstone for their late daughter's grave.

But police found out she had other plans for the money, thanks to the help of the Young family.

Dan Summers has been doing maintenance work on a house on Webster Street in Benton.

He popped over to a garage sale across the street during one of his breaks.

"Couple small kids, I was gonna maybe buy some toys, somethin' like that," said Summers.

He did not know until Wednesday night that the sale was a scam.

Molly Young's father also stopped by the garage sale on Saturday afternoon.

He started talking with the host, Donna Restivo, the woman who was claiming all the proceeds were going to his family, and quickly realized she had no idea who he was.

"I said well who are you going to give the money to and she said she was going to give it to the father and I said well I am the father," said Young.

Young says Restivo told him she wanted to help the family buy a tombstone for Molly's grave because she did not have one, but Molly does have a tombstone in the Oakland Cemetery in Carbondale.

Angry and suspicious, Young checked for activity at this bank where all official fundraising money comes through and no deposits had been made.

He sent a relative back to the sale and Restivo's story had changed.

"She said she didn't know anything about Justice for Molly," said Young.

After a confrontation, Restivo called police and she ended up being hauled off to jail.

Young feels taken advantage of to know that his tragedy was capitalized on.

"It's very hurtful, I don't know how to describe it, it hurts ya...it hurts a lot," said Young.

We reached out to the Benton Police Department to learn more about Restivo but the chief was unavailable to speak with us.

Local 6 did confirm over the phone that Restivo was charged with "Deceptive Practice" and bonded out.

If you donated money to Donna Restivo at her Saturday garage sale, you are urged to call the Benton Police Department.