When a man walked into the Frandor Deli about a year ago and asked to leave a donation jar behind, Jamie Rodgers said he didn't think twice about it.
"He just dropped it off and said it was for missing children," Rodgers, the nigh manager at the Frandor Deli, said.
The owner of Evergreen Cycle and Repair has a similar story.
"A guy came in and asked do you mind if I put a canister up to help these lost kids and it had a picture on it," Hunter Seyfarth said.
The "Beacon Project" was supposed to help reunite families with missing children -- the owner of Tony M's said it struck a chord with a lot of people.
"People were donating to it on a regular basis," John Migaldi said. "It was only a quarter or you could give more money."
Nearly 90 businesses from Lansing to Williamston displayed the donation box. Police say all of them, including the hundreds of people who donated, were duped by 54-year-old Joseph Carr of Williamston because instead of helping children, they say he was pocketing the money for himself.
"I'm kind of in shock about it," Rodgers said "I don't understand how someone could stoop that low."
Newsten went to Carr's house Thursday for comment, but no one answered the door.
Needless to say, business owners across Mid Michigan are in shock.
"It's not right to take advantage of someone's generosity then turn around an pocket the money." Seyfarth said. "That's heartless."
And many are feeling more skeptical than ever to open up their hearts and their pocket books.
"It's very offensive to everyone especially to the good organizations because now you become more skeptical when people come to ask for help," Migaldi said. "You're going to question it now."
The Attorney General's Office said from February through June of this year, Carr collected between $1,500 and $2,000 dollars a month.
He was arraigned Thursday on three charges -- and faces a five year prison sentence if convicted.