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Fraudulent Charity Scams
By Lieutenant Douglas Burkhart
Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office

County Sheriff

Every dollar stolen by fraudulent charities is a dollar that fails to help our fallen comrades and their courageous families.

No person, regardless of age or sex, wants to be the victim of a crime. Crimes of fraud often go unreported because people feel like they made a dumb mistake, or possibly it is showing their deteriorating ability to care for themselves.

Often elderly persons fail to report to their insurance companies minor non- injury automotive accidents, i.e. striking a utility pole, scrapping the garage. These people are afraid of policy cancellations or possible rate hikes.

They are also afraid of the embarrassment that can be caused when family and friends find out. Please do not be embarrassed; if you feel you have been victimized report the crime!

Law enforcement can not work without your help. You are a victim, not a criminal. The reason you have been victimized is because you are a generous caring human being - report the crime.

Law enforcement is on your side, you are the good guys and we are in the fair play business. If for no other reason than to stop another fraud, report the crime to your local law enforcement agency.

Over half of the telemarketing frauds reported are directed against people 60 and older, our senior citizens, our golden agers, our grandparents, our parents and our friends.

Common sense is the general rule of thumb, however. These are not overzealous sales people we are dealing with. These are hardened criminals, who use a phone and a computer the way some criminals use a gun or a slim jim. The bottom line is they will rob you. So to protect yourself we suggest the following steps as daily care of your life savings.

Do not wait to check with your husband, wife, children or friends.

Identity theft is now the most dangerous.

This may be done in person, by phone or conveniently on line.

When not home, lock up all checkbooks, social security cards, credit cards and receipts. When making purchases in public or on line give only pertinent information. Don't be afraid to ask why your address is needed when purchasing a lawn mower. If you feel something is wrong don't buy check it out!

If you have a service i.e. lawn, cleaning, laundry, make the check out, put your checkbook away, and either give it to the service after their completion or mail it in. Do not invite strangers into your home.

If there is a need for an unusual service schedule it at your convenience and have your wife, husband, companion or a friend in the house while the service is being performed.

With the horrific attack on the United States last Tuesday many Americans want to do their part. Many of our golden agers feel monetary contributions are the best way for them to chip in. This is admirable and generous. There is no full proof way of knowing where or how your contribution will be used. So we suggest you only contribute to charities you know i.e. your church, the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, local fire departments.

In preparation of this article I checked with two large charity organizations in Cuyahoga County that are taking contributions for families of victims of Tuesdays attack. Both organizations told me that they are not participating in any form of telemarketing solicitation for contributions. These organizations are the Cleveland Fire Department, and Catholic Charities.

Chief Norman of CFD, said an account was set up through their credit union for "CARE OF NEW YORK FALLEN FIGHTERS ASSOSIATION". They may be contacted at 216-621-4644 or cash contributions are being accepted by local firehouses.

Bishop Pilla has sent letters to all the parishes in the Cleveland Diocese asking contributions be sent directly to the national office for Catholic Charities in Alexandria, Virginia. They may be reached at 800-869-6525 or locally at 216-696-6525.

The Sheriff's Department is neither suggesting that you contribute, nor who you contribute to, however if you choose to make a contribution please choose a legitimate organization.

If you feel you have been victimized, report the crime. Every dollar stolen by fraudulent charities is a dollar that fails to help our fallen comrades and their courageous families.

Lieutenant Douglas Burkhart
Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office

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