Legitimate organization says scam could hurt fundraising efforts
When Bojangles owner Kristal Beaver first spoke with a representative of a veteran’s group last Wednesday, March 13, she agreed to make a donation to their cause.
But Beaver’s support quickly turned to suspicion as more and more red flags went up during the course of the conversation and donation process.
“This guy called and he was a really good salesperson,” Beaver said. “He told me they were raising money for 30 carnation blankets for a veteran’s memorial cemetery in Canton, and they just needed four more, but he started getting a little rushed and told me they had to have the money today to make the order in time for Memorial Day.”
Despite being slightly uneasy about the group, Beaver agreed to donate money to fund two blankets for $250 each. The man on the telephone agreed to come up and meet with Beaver in person to collect the check.
“He said he was going to show me all the great things they have done, but he didn’t come. It was a courier,” she said. “He wreaked of alcohol and cigarettes and had some information with him, but I was still suspicious so I went back to the computer to check the group’s tax ID number and it wasn’t legit. The address he had was a P.O. Box out of Lilburn and the business was registered but it had only been for seven months. The man on the phone told me they have been doing this for years.”
Beaver said when she told the courier the tax ID number was not valid he told her the printer misprinted, and that it was one digit off. She looked up the new number, but again it returned no legitimate results. Beaver eventually told the man she wasn’t comfortable with the donation and that she would need more information.
“Then he snatched back the papers and walked out the door,” she said.
The Progress contacted Marge Helgerson, Director of the Georgia and Marietta National Cemetery in Canton, to ask if they were working with any state veterans groups to fund Memorial Day grave blankets, and she adamantly denied being connected with any group of this kind.
“The cemetery is not affiliated with anyone raising money for carnation blankets, or for anything for the cemetery for that matter,” Helgerson said, who noted that because the cemetery is federal property they are not allowed to hold fundraisers. “I would warn people to be careful and make donations to the appropriate groups.”
The name the phony group given to the Bojangles owner included “Georgia” and “Veterans,” which is similar to many other legitimate groups in the state.
Beaver said her husband, who works as a chiropractor, received a call the very same day from the same group. “When they found out I was his wife they hung up the phone very quickly,” Beaver said. “I honestly think they were just going from business to business in the phone book.”
Jasper’s All-South Copiers Manager Joyce Stone said she also received a call last week from a suspicious sounding veteran’s group.
“They were very nice until I asked for more information and requested something in writing,” Stone said. “Then they just hung up on me so I assumed it was not legitimate.”
Wayne Poore of the North Georgia Mountain Marine Corps League found out about the phony group as he was going from business to business last week soliciting raffle items for their upcoming fundraiser.
“It kind of throws a shadow on your efforts if you go out and someone is soliciting who is not really affiliated with veterans,” Poore said, who is sure to always bring proper documentation for his 501(c)4 non-profit when he goes door to door.
“We are getting ready to start our raffle, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s hard enough to collect money, but this leaves a bad taste in business owners’ mouths.”