MARTIN COUNTY, FL – Your phone rings and you look at the screen. You do not recognize the number, but you answer it anyway.
On the other end of the line is a voice letting you know that your car warranty is about to expire, that they have a pending legal matter in their office, or that you have been selected to receive free solar panels at your home or place of business.
We spend obscene amounts of time dodging these money scammers. They start calling at 8 am and typically do not stop until close to 9 pm. But at least we don’t have to answer, and we do not have to face them.
We get in our cars and head home.
For at least one Florida county, the scams are leaving phone calls behind and going out into the streets, according to The Free Press.
“Now, we are asking everyone to be aware of a different type of scam we are seeing sweep through Martin County and across the State of Florida,” said Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
“You may have seen them at various intersections throughout Martin County, holding signs stating they are ‘raising money’ for a child battling cancer, wearing hats and t-shirts that support the child.”
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to a potential issue at the corner of SE Federal Highway and SE Indian Street. Motorists were calling to complain that there were people in traffic, soliciting donations.
The MCSO Community Policing Unit went to investigate and made contact with the people callers were identifying.
They were wearing t-shirts and hats with the name Emilia. They were holding signs with a little girl’s picture that includes the words:
“EMILIA-DIAGNOSED-WITH-BRAIN-CANCER-4-YEARS-OLD-YOUR-HELP-CAN-SAVE-LIFE-OF-EMILIA GOD BLESS”
Just terrible-Martin County Sheriff’s Office released images of people, who they say, are posing as loved ones raising money for Emilia who has brain cancer. Officials said they were on SE Federal Hwy and SE Indian St. soliciting money. @WPBF25News
Courtesy: MCSO pic.twitter.com/4APl9Isql1
— Sooji Nam (@WPBF_Sooji) July 28, 2022
Turns out, there really is a little girl named Emilia that is battling cancer and has a Facebook page for people to follow her fight.
These “fundraisers” in Stuart, Florida are just actually associated with the young girl fighting for her life. The money they are raising is going directly into their own pockets.
“There is in fact a child named Emilia who is battling cancer and has a Facebook page to allow loved ones and friends to follow her battle and recovery.
These individuals tried to capitalize on this young girl battling cancer, only to raise money for their own pockets.
The posters, hats and t-shirts used in this scam were only made in an effort to solicit more money by tugging on the heartstrings of our compassionate citizens,” an MCSO spokesperson said.
The Sheriff’s Office said that they were only able to trespass the group from the intersection. They pointed out that their actions were certainly unethical, they didn’t actually violate any Florida State Statutes and therefore could not be criminally charged.
One could certainly argue that the group was committing fraud with their con game.
At Law Enforcement Today, we echo the sentiment of The Free Press who said to be diligent in researching charitable causes to donate money to.
It goes beyond simple affiliation and reputability. You should also find out how much of your donation is actually being used to assist the individuals in need versus paying salaries and covering operating expenses.
We have seen numerous organizations operating under the guise of law enforcement friendly charitable organizations, but when you peel back the layers, you find that they are actually doing very little to support and aid the law enforcement communities they claim to be serving.
There are those out there who seek to profit off other’s kindness and generosity. Be vigilant and cautious.
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