Home raffle under scrutiny

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DENISON, TX -- One Denison woman says it sounded like the opportunity of a lifetime: a $100 raffle ticket could get you a house, and help orphans overseas. You may have even heard about it advertised on KXII-TV, but now she says it may have been too good to be true.

Jeanie Beam says she thought buying that ticket a year ago was a no-lose situation. She could win a new home valued at $77,000 and help what she believed was a good cause. Now she says she has questions about the motives of the people behind Hearts of Love Ministries- the organization responsible for the raffle.

"Yes, the citizens of Grayson County are some of the most genuine, generous people and I don't like to see them taken advantage of," Beam says.

Beam's ticket says the raffle would be held by the end of January 2007- more than 11 months ago. She recently saw the house had been put up for sale, and started wondering where her money went.

"There was deception involved, and it not only hurt the people that bought the tickets that thought they were doing something for a good charity, but it hurts the charities themselves.”

The home is located in the 400 block of West Morton St. in Denison. While Hearts of Love organized the raffle, Garland-based El Nema group has owned the home since 2004. Representatives with another group associated with El Nema tell us the home was donated to the ministry, but county records show El Nema is still the owner.

"Well, what has been reported so far is that the complainant bought a raffle ticket for $100 and the raffle appears has never taken place,” says Lt. Mike Eppler, with Denison police. “And it started making her believe that possibly she may have been scammed by this organization."

Several weeks ago Hearts of Love representatives told us ticket sales were low so the house would never be raffled off. They claimed ticket-holders would get their money back.

Rodney Love with Hearts of Love ministries wouldn't say how many tickets were sold, and our efforts to find others who may have bought tickets weren't successful.

Beam's money was refunded, but she says it was only after contacting KXII-TV and filing the police report. Now- she wonders if there are others out there who haven't been refunded.

Hearts of Love ministry is a national organization with an office in Dallas. We spoke with owner of the Denison home Sunday, who says he's not affiliated with the organization but was familiar with the raffle.

A few weeks ago we spoke with charity representatives, but our calls requesting an on-camera interview were not returned.

Police say they will turn the case over to the District Attorney if they receive more evidence suggesting the raffle was a scam.

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