January 14, 2003
Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Shanley, 863 534-6631 or
Fraud Unit Warns Citizens to Check Out Telephone Solicitors
Following the report of a caller soliciting a
donation for a non-existent memorial foundation, the Polk County Sheriff's
Office Fraud Unit is encouraging citizens to always verify that the
charity seeking their donation is legitimate.
PCSO Fraud Unit detectives are investigating
a report of a local citizen receiving a phone call from a person
soliciting a donation for the "Rhoden/Wilkinson Memorial Foundation"
(Deputies Larry Rhoden and Brian Wilkinson were killed in a helicopter
crash in October of 2001). There is no such memorial foundation, and
detectives are urging citizens to report any future similar calls seeking
donations in the fallen deputies' names, or any other possible fraudulent
solicitations. Detectives also offer the following tips to help citizens
give wisely when asked to donate:
- Ask for written information. A legitimate
charity will give you information outlining its mission, how your
donation will be distributed, and proof that your contribution is tax
- Ask for identification. Many states
require paid fund-raisers to identify themselves as such and to name the
charity for which they're soliciting.
- Watch out for similar sounding names. Some
phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected,
- Call the charity. Find out if the
organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of
its name. If not, you may be dealing with a sham solicitor.
- Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a
pledge you don't remember making. Check your records if you have doubts
about a pledge you supposedly made.
- Refuse high pressure appeals. Legitimate
charities won't push you to give on the spot.
- Be cautious of charities that offer to
send a courier for your donation.
- Consider the costs. When buying
merchandise or receiving free goods for giving, remember that these
items are paid for out of your contribution. That means less of your
donation may go to the charity.
- Be wary of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings
in exchange for your contribution. You never have to donate to be
eligible to win.
- Don't send cash. For security and tax
record purposes, pay by check. Write the official name of the charity on
Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media
A text only version of this release is also available.