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Manhattan fire district warns of possible scam donation requests

Updated: June 27, 2014 6:14AM



A possible scam artist soliciting donations to benefit Manhattan firefighters called the wrong person — a captain with that fire district.

Now, fire officials want area residents to know they are not soliciting donations by telephone and people who get solicitation calls should be wary of the pitch.

A woman who identified herself as “Cindy” called Manhattan Fire Protection District Capt. Gerald Kinsella and asked him to donate to the Manhattan Firefighters Association. Knowing that the department was not doing any telemarketing for donations, Kinsella strung her along for more information.

She asked for a “red” $100 donation, “white” $50 donation or “blue” $35 donation, whatever he was “comfortable” with. When he asked her to send him information, she got crafty.

“She said she would send it but would really like a dollar amount since they’d be sending a receipt,” Kinsella wrote in an email to Chief Dan Forsythe explaining the call. “Due to the fact that it is ‘tax deductible’ they cannot ‘legally’ send it without an amount.”

By dialing any number with the local 478 prefix, a caller could possibly reach someone served by the fire district who might be duped into contributing.

The fire district’s public education coordinator, Dawn Cupples, said the district never solicits money by phone. It mails out an annual fundraiser letter, which will be going out next month with tickets for a summer bash scheduled for July 19. Residents who buy tickets are asked to mail checks to the fire station. No one ever calls on the phone to collect, Cupples said.

“We are trying to let residents know what we actually do, vs. these people who are using our name,” she said.

The woman who identified herself as “Cindy” told Kinsella she actually was collecting for the firefighters through a Joliet-based fundraising organization. But the vice president of the organization that “Cindy” named told the SouthtownStar it works primarily with churches and schools, does not do phone solicitations and is not calling anyone asking for donations for Manhattan firefighters.

Cupples said residents should never give money to anyone soliciting donations by phone for the Manhattan Firefighters Association.



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