Crime

Denver Homelessness Charity Operator Charged With Fraud

Singhaus's charity on Welton Street provided clothes to people experiencing homelessness.
Singhaus's charity on Welton Street provided clothes to people experiencing homelessness. Google Maps
A man who runs a Denver charity that works with people experiencing homelessness is facing eight felony counts over alleged fraud related to the charity.

On January 9, Denver police officers and agents with the Department of Homeland Security arrested Travis Singhaus, the 47-year-old head of the charity Impact Network, at Denver International Airport after he had returned from an overseas trip, according to information provided by the Denver District Attorney's Office. The DA's office has charged Singhaus with theft, three counts of charitable fraud for unauthorized use of a name, forgery, and three counts of criminal impersonation.

The website for Impact Locally, which is under the Impact Network umbrella, describes the organization's mission as helping "individuals and families who are in need and homeless to regain their humanity by providing programs that provide both short and long term solutions." The organization lists a Five Points address as its headquarters and claims that it has fed close to 250,000 people and clothed about 130,000 people.

"Prosecutors believe Singhaus stole grant funds totaling $349,000 from a Denver nonprofit philanthropic organization by using another local charity’s employer identification number to claim Impact Network had 501(c)(3) charitable status. Singhaus is also accused of fraudulently using other charities’ tax-exempt numbers to avoid paying taxes on purchases he made. Singhaus has never registered any of his entities with the Colorado Secretary of State or with the Internal Revenue Service, nor has Singhaus obtained charitable or tax-exempt status with the IRS or the State of Colorado," according to a statement from Carolyn Tyler, a spokesperson for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. "In addition, Singhaus is accused of recently setting up a GoFundMe.org page to solicit donations for Impact Locally and Impact Humanity. GoFundMe has since terminated Singhaus’ donation page."

Westword has reached out to Impact Locally and has not yet heard back. Singhaus is currently being held at the Downtown Detention Center; his case has not yet been listed in the court docket.

A partially redacted arrest warrant penned by the Denver District Attorney's Office shows that Singhaus had been running a clothing bank out of his charity's Five Points headquarters. "Singhaus also provided additional services to the homeless population, such as sack lunches and taking kids hiking in the mountains," according to the warrant.
Travis Singhaus is facing eight felony counts. - DENVER DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Travis Singhaus is facing eight felony counts.
Denver District Attorney's Office
The warrant describes 2014 as the time that Singhaus, then legally named Travis Smith, began operating a nonprofit named Impact Locally.

In July 2017, Impact Locally participated in a silent auction charity fundraiser, which included two people collectively bidding $1,500 on a trip, per the warrant. When the two people attempted to book the trip, they found that Singhaus and Impact Locally had not paid the travel agent for the trip.

After receiving a complaint in April 2018, an investigator with the Colorado Secretary of State's Business and Charity Licensing office began investigating the reneged charity purchase of the trip. Per the warrant, Singhaus then explained to the investigator that he "had lost money on the silent auction and showed a screenshot purportedly of a refund to the complainant."

Then, in August 2018, the investigator sent Singhaus a notice that he'd be receiving a $300 fine for failing to register his nonprofit. In December 2018, Singhaus changed his name from Travis Wayne Smith to Travis Liam Singhaus.

The fraud allegedly committed by Singhaus extended into 2021. And multiple news stories from this past year show that he was complaining about break-ins at Impact Locally's clothing bank on Welton Street. Finally, in November, Singhaus told 9News that he was closing the clothing bank because of the break-ins.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.