via Fake charities scam Mississippians, clarionledger.com
If you donated money to “charities” called Children and Family Services Inc., Mississippi Children Services Inc. or Mississippi Children and Family Services from 2008 to 2012, federal investigators would like to talk to you. The organizations are fake, and according to a Thursday announcement from Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, are part of a far-reaching scam broken up with the October indictment (and recent conviction) of a Florida man.
Hosemann’s office has been cooperating with the U.S. attorney’s north Florida office to investigate the case involving Gary R. Tomey, who was arrested last fall with an alleged co-conspirator after an investigation found the pair had allegedly “instructed employees to fraudulently tell potential donors living in other states that the employees were volunteers and that all proceeds helped children in the state where the potential donor lived.” Some of those calls went to victims in Mississippi.
“Scams like this will not be tolerated in Mississippi,” Hosemann said. “I commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their work and support in this case.”
In a news release from October, the U.S. attorney’s office stated that the pair “intentionally used a charity name that was similar to a state agency and failed to disclose that their organizations had been previously sanctioned in other states for fraudulent solicitations.” The scheme allegedly reaped more than $1.2 million in proceeds, which went to pay salaries, business expenses and Tomey’s personal expenses. Hosemann noted the organization “fraudulently solicited charitable donations via calls and flyers through his telemarketing company to donors in many states, including the State of Mississippi.”
As part of their continuing investigation, Hosemann said, the U.S. attorney’s office is trying to reach as many potential victims as possible, and if you have donated to any of these organizations, contact Victim/Witness Specialist Gretchen Busbee at the U.S. attorney’s office at 850-444-4000 or email her at Gretchen.Busbee@usdoj.gov.
It’s important to note that, although the names of these organizations are similar to well-known and reputable Mississippi agencies and organizations, don’t be confused. Fake charities often use the names of known organizations to break through our natural defenses of skepticism, and may even misrepresent themselves by using the name of the actual legitimate charity being impersonated.
Before agreeing to donate to any organization over the phone, check it out thoroughly. Ask them to send you more information in the mail before making your decision, and never give your checking account or credit card number to anyone who calls you. (If they won’t agree to send you information, consider it a red flag.) With any telemarketing solicitation, it’s a good idea to keep a notepad nearby, and note the caller ID information, including the number, along with the date and time of the call, the name (if given) of any representatives. If you feel pressured at any time, just hang up. No legitimate charity will pressure, harass, threaten or frighten you; if you feel any of these are occurring, your best ally may be introducing the caller to “Mr. Dial Tone.”