Kaya Sanders, 5, smiles as she gets her vitals checked during a radiology appointment at Seattle Children’s Hospital on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Kaya Sanders, 5, smiles as she gets her vitals checked during a radiology appointment at Seattle Children’s Hospital on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Police looking for scammer claiming to represent dying girl

The unidentified woman is collecting donations that aren’t going to the family of Kaya Sanders, 5.

EVERETT — A scammer appears to be falsely invoking the name of a terminally ill Everett girl.

The woman has been visiting businesses and claiming that she is collecting donations for the girl. She is saying that Kaya Sanders, 5, has died.

That is not true.

Everett police have assigned a detective, officer Aaron Snell said Thursday.

Investigators were contacted on Dec. 15, Snell said. They were told the woman was seen in the area around the One Twelfth Street Diner, where several people gave her cash.

As of Thursday, police were working on obtaining and analyzing surveillance video. Some of the footage appears to show the suspect, who is about 5-foot-3 and has dark brown hair, Snell said. The images have not been made public.

Kaya, a kindergartner at Emerson Elementary, has an incurable brain tumor. She has a condition called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. Her mother used to work at the diner, and employees there contacted the family about the scam.

Kaya’s story was featured on the front page of The Daily Herald’s Sunday edition on Dec. 2. The story was part of Snohomish County Gives, an annual special section that highlights nonprofits and other organizations with missions of community service.

Kaya and her loved ones receive assistance from Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County. They also have endorsed an online fundraiser called “Kaya and her family.”

Anyone with information about the donation-collecting scam is encouraged to call the Everett Police Department tipline at 425-257-8450.

Reporter Andrea Brown contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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