Monday, November 26, 2007

Other Problems With Questionable Fundraising

Gang of Women Scam Artists on the East Side

It is that time of year...We have heard reports of a group of three or four women who ask for money at Shopping Centers on the East Side of Cleveland. They usually have a clip board (because everyone looks official if they are holding a clip board), and they claim that they are raising money for NEOCH, a Women's Shelter, or a Domestic Violence Shelter. They also have a fake identification badge that they created with the NEOCH name on it. Then, as the final attempt to look legitimate, they give the individuals who "donate" the front side of our Street Card. We have tried to have these people arrested many times, and only a few cities actually find it even worth their time to run them off. Most cities tell us that it is a minor misdemeanor because the victim only lost $1, $5 or at most $10, so why bother engaging them. Even though this criminal enterprise is taking away hundreds of dollars of good will it is stealing a little from many different people. So, these women give a document meant for homeless people, claiming that they are raising money for charities, and then use that money for the purchase of illegal substances.

They are doing all of this on private property, which makes it very difficult to regulate. They used the Grapevine at first as their front, but that was expensive since they had to buy each copy for a quarter. The Street Card is free and so they can run those off at Kinkos or the Library for a few cents a copy, and they have an scam with very low overhead. Only the Salvation Army and the Grapevine are legitimately outside raising dollars for homeless causes or homeless people. The shelters do not raise money on the streets, and neither does the Domestic Violence Center. Please call the police if you see this gang deceiving people with their Street Card scam. Since our name is used, NEOCH would be happy to testify at any trial against these women as the victim of this crime. They move around and have been seen in Euclid, Richmond Hts, East Cleveland, South Euclid, Woodland, Cleveland, Southgate, and Cleveland Hts. In the height of hubris, we also had a report that they were asking for money on the steps of Cleveland City Hall. They no longer fear punishment for this scam and are willing to conduct their illegal activity at the center of government in Cleveland. None of their money goes to any charity, and they will not stop until they are put in jail for a very long time.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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