Local police warn of fraudulent telemarketers

The callers claim to be raising money for schools or other agencies.

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WALLA WALLA -- Police are warning about a fraudulent fundraising effort that victimized a local business.

Mike Harvey's Plumbing Services was contacted by phone by a person claiming to work for Scoreboard Productions. The caller, who identified herself as "Jerry," said it was raising money for Garrison Middle School.

Kathy Harvey, company vice president, agreed to pay nearly $300 to have its company logo on T-shirts and in an advertisement for Garrison's basketball program. Although she normally checks on such appeals, Harvey said this time she didn't before approving the payment.

But, Harvey said, "something was bothering her about the call." So she ran a check through the Better Business Bureau's Web site and discovered "Scoreboard Productions" was one of 30 alternate names for a Texas-based company that has an "F" rating and has been the source of hundreds of complaints.

A check with Garrison officials confirmed the school had no such fundraising effort under way. Harvey then called the police, and several businesses to warn them.

Police on Wednesday issued a press release warning about the bogus fundraiser and urged people to always check to make sure such calls are legitimate.

"If you receive a call from a telemarketing company claiming to be raising money for a school, police or fire agency, ask for the contact information for the benefiting agency," Officer Tim Bennett said. "A legitimate telemarketer should be able to readily provide this information.

"If they provide the information, always call the benefiting agency to confirm the telemarketer is working for them before providing account information to the telemarketer," he said. "Fraudulent telemarketers may tell you this is a 'one-time offer and you must act now.' Do not fall for this tactic."

"That's what I would recommend," Harvey said. "All I had to do that day was call."

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