The Scammers Are Ringing in for Christmas

As we enter the Christmas “giving” season you must beware of the crooks, scammers, and con-men who are ready to take advantage of your “giving” mood.

The scammers are on the phones calling for every “good, and wonderful” charity you could think of. The charities these con-men collect for, either get very little money, or no money at all. That means your entire donation is going right in the pocket of the crook. Here’s how it works. They call and say they are collecting for the Police Children’s Christmas Party and ask if you would like to buy some tickets to the party. They say if you can’t go they will give the tickets to some poor children so they will have a nice Christmas party. So let’s say you buy 20 tickets for $100. Here’s what can happen to your donation.

The telemarketer on the phone gets $10 for the sale, the runner who comes to your home or office to pick up the donation gets $25, the administration costs are $60 and all that is left is $5 for the “so-called” kids Christmas party. So out of your $100 donation only $5 went to the party. To keep the promotion somewhat legal, the promoter will have a small party and a few kids will go. They will shoot videotape as proof that the money was used for a Christmas party. Promoters make hundreds of thousands of dollars this way every holiday season.

Here are the “RED FLAGS” to look for when you get a call asking you to make a contribution:

  • Ask for the name of the organization, a phone number and an address.
  • Ask what percentage of your contribution is going to the charity. The law says if you ask they must tell you (Of course, they may lie).
  • Ask them if you can mail the contribution directly to the organization (like the LAPD’s Children’s fund).  If they say no, we will send a runner out right now to get your money, look out.

Always ask for a call back number.  Most scammers will not give you one or they will give you a phony number. Tell them you need the number to call them back before you can make a contribution. (This is when they normally hang up.)

I know of a telemarketer who decided he didn’t just want the 10% for getting the donation, so he set up his own church and charitable organizations to receive all the money from the donations. That’s right, anyone in the good old USA can set up a church and collect money for its good works. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of religion. It says, “You shall pass no law” that controls the freedom of religion. You don’t even have to pay U.S. taxes because you are a church. I called him the “One Man Church”.

He collected on the phone for about four church charities. One of the charities was for U.S. Military veterans. I asked him if he even knew a veteran that had served in the U.S. Military.  He said no, but one night he went down to skid row in San Francisco and asked men if they were veterans and then gave them a military surplus blanket. He said he handed out about 25 blankets. It is estimated that he collected thousands on the phone for his charities.

Another one of his charities was for helping handicapped children. I asked him what he had done for handicapped children. He said he helped a handicapped girl cross the street one day. That was it. He also had a charity for Aids Education. He told me he had never met a person with Aids, but he was going to get some pamphlets on Aids and would hand them out.

Remember, he is collecting thousands of dollars in donations from the public. (It may be hard to believe, but according to the California Attorney General’s Office and the IRS what he is doing is legal.)  Maybe I should set up the Church of the Good Thought.  I am sure I must have at least one good thought per day. Then you can give me your “hard earned” money as donations and I will not have to pay tax on it. It’s called scammers heaven.


Police Officers and Fire Fighters do not call from their stations asking for donations, it is against the rules in most departments. However the crooks like to say they are a police officer and they are calling from your local police station or fire station and they need your help.

Here is an example; a business owner in Canoga Park, Ca. got a call from a man who said he was Sgt. Jim Johnson with the Canoga Park Police Department. He asked the businessman for a $50 to $100 donation to help teen organizations that fight drugs. The businessman quickly said, Sgt Johnson how long have you been with the Canoga Park Police Department? The caller said, oh, 10-years this coming January.

The businessman said that must be difficult since there is no Canoga Park Police Department, we are in the City of LA and the LAPD covers Canoga Park. The crook hung up. If the caller says he or she is an officer ask for a call back number for their supervisor. They will not give it to you because they are not cops or fire fighters they are crooks.