Newport Beach police are notifying the public because they recently discovered the large pool of potential victims, Sailor said.
“We’re afraid we could have hundreds of other victims out there,” he said.
Hammonds was being evicted from his apartment when police arrested him in February, Sailor said. He had been paying the last six months of rent, about $15,000 worth, with victims’ credit card information, Sailor said.
In 2005, the Catalina Conservancy group did not have a website capable of receiving electronic donations, conservancy spokeswoman Leslie Baer said. Many of its loosely organized support groups, such as the Catalina Conservancy Divers that would clean up Avalon Harbor, set up their own websites to accept donations.
The Catalina Conservancy began accepting online donations through a secured website in mid-2006, Baer said.
The organization immediately asked all of its off-shoot groups to shut down its donation practices and go through them.
The Catalina Conservancy Divers no longer accepts online donations, Sailor said.
“Any donations intended for the conservancy come through us physically or through a secured website,” Baer said. “Once we were online, everything happened through us.”
Hammonds is being held in Orange County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Police have identified 816 potential victims so far and ask anyone who donated to the Catalina Conservancy Divers through 2005 and 2006 to review their credit profiles and check their bank records.
Possible victims should first contact their banks and shut down their accounts, investigators said.
Anyone who may be a victim is urged to call Investigator Bob Watts at (800) 550-NBPD or call (949) 644-3799.
JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.