The customer, identified only as Bill, said he gave Evana Conover, a waitress at Watermark Grille in Naples, a $600 check made out in her name on Valentine's Day and another check for $6,000 made out to Florida Gulf Coast University, WZVN, Fort Myers, Fla., reported Friday.
"In the process of serving us, we got into a conversation. I'm a fairly outgoing guy, and we're talking about backgrounds and things like that. So she told me her story, and I was listening to it. It was very moving to me," Bill said.
"I said I would be interested in offering with your tuition. She said that would be nice and I have to say she didn't ask for any money. She didn't seem to be conning me at all," Bill said.
However, Bill said he called the school the following Monday and discovered no one with Conover's name was registered at FGCU.
Bill said he called Conover to ask for an explanation, and he canceled both of the checks when she failed to respond by the next day.
"I have no time for people who don't tell the truth, that have no integrity. At this point, she's lost all credibility with me," Bill said.
Conover said she had tried to respond to Bill with a text message, which WZVN said was sent to a landline number. She said she had decided not to accept the money.
Conover said she had been taking online classes with the school, but stopped for financial reasons. She said she was accepted to the school's nursing program and will attend in the fall.
However, FGCU spokeswoman Susan Evans disputed Conover's account.
"No one with that name has ever applied, been accepted or enrolled in any program at FGCU," Evans said.