You may have heard of Joanne the Scammer, the fictional internet scammer that shows up regularly in memes. But Chicago may have a real-life version of Joanne in a woman named Candace Clark, who is accused of running an elaborate scam to steal money via fake swearing-in ceremonies, where actors were allegedly hired to make them look real.

Last year, a women with impressive credentials spoke at an event organized at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She had a resume that laid out all her accomplishments – a criminology degree from UIC, an MBA from Chicago’s DePaul University and credit for the creation of the Robbins Reconstruction Act.

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But according to Chicago’s CBS News outlet and the work of their investigative reporter Dorothy Tucker, it was all a lie.

CBS 2 reports:

The CBS 2 Investigators contacted UIC and DePaul. Neither university could confirm a degree earned by her.

We could find no record of her working at places she claims to have worked. We contacted several prominent organizations and communities she claims to have helped and they all told us she never did any work with them.

But over and over and over again, she has participated in videotaped ceremonies, often standing before a judge, taking an oath of office.

CBS 2 Investigators obtained videos of ceremonies which occurred in February, May, June and November of last year.

When she is sworn in, she is also honored for making history.

Speakers identify her as “the first African-American woman to hold the Director of Special Investigations position in the State of Illinois.”

It is all fake. CBS 2 Investigators reached out to the State of Illinois and learned there is no such position as Director of Special Investigations.

So who are the people attending these phony ceremonies, and why are they participating in them?

The reason is because Candace Clark hired them. Most are performers like Rich Daniels, musician and founder of the City Lights Orchestra and singer Suzanne Palmer.

Many audience members are extras sent by a local casting company. The judge is not actually a judge – she’s independent film actress Jamie Newell.

Newell also actually helped produce some of the ceremonies, design flyers and, introduce Clark to other performers – a decision she now regrets.

Newell says Clark convinced her that her swearing-in ceremonies needed to be videotaped and that the judges that had the authority to do it were often unavailable. Newell actually helped Clark, who she said she trusted, produce them. But neither Newell nor anyone else who participated in the events were paid, so Clark owes them over 20K.

But there’s even more. Clark is accused of scamming another woman out of most of her life’s savings. Read the entire story HERE.

PHOTO: Chicago Police Department

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