LOCAL News :: Crime and Police

Scam targets Wentzville police, residents

WENTZVILLE — The Wentzville Police Protective Agency sounds like a worthy charity.
But police and state officials say it's nothing more than a scam.

Since May, the Wentzville Police Department, the FBI and the state Attorney General's office have tried to stop a Florida-based man from falsely soliciting donations for the Wentzville Police Department.

"This guy falls into a gray area where as long as he donates as little as 3 cents to 20 cents on the dollar, he's legal," said Wentzville Police Detective Bobby Magers. "But (the police department hasn't) received a dime of that money.

"It's a scam and people need to write the number down when they call, as well as the date and time, and then call us," Magers said.

The state Attorney General's office does not comment on current investigations, but spokesman John Fougere said this type of scam is unfortunately common.

"This is what we call a ‘badge scam,' where using the name of police or firefighters in that area makes residence say, ‘Well, it must be official,'" Fougere said.

The simple way to avoid this problem is to make donations directly to the places you're trying to help, Fougere said.

"Contact the charity instead of just believing the person over the phone," Fougere said. "Don't feel selfish if you say no to them."

The FBI spent a month tracking the calls to a home in Hudson, Fla., Magers said, after which a letter was sent to the man telling him to stop making his phone calls.

"It was kind of a scare tactic, but he's doing the same thing to the people he's trying to get money from," Magers said. "If people say they don't want to donate, he tells them the police might not show up the next time they're needed."

Other false charity names used in the same scam include the Police Protective Agency and the Injured Officers and Wives charity, Magers said, but this was the first time Wentzville was specifically named.

Similar calls from the same source have been made to residences is St. Charles, St. Louis and Fenton, Magers said.

A problem investigators encountered after they started to look for the culprit was that the phone number used does not accept incoming calls.

While investigators try to track how the person donates the little amount of money that actually goes to charities, Magers said he hopes to work with the state to get a bill passed that would outlaw these activities.

"The real shame is that a lot of the people being targeted are the elderly and God only knows how much they've given this guy," Magers said. "At the very least I would like to see us obtain a cease and desist order."

If residents receive a phone call from a person asking for donations to any of the above charities, call the ... don't be a snitch


Next time authorities call your house for donations...

...accuse them of being a scam. Those bastards always call me, but now I'm just gonna go off on them.

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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