Woman calls out scammer after hearing about it on the news

JPSO warns about police fundraising scam
Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 7:15 PM CST
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KENNER, LA (WVUE) - The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office warns of a scam from the "American Police Officers Alliance" asking for donations for law enforcement.

One  woman received a call from the organization after watching the news and learning about the scam.

Kelly Giarratano was watching TV this morning, when she got a call.

"I pick it up and it says Leesville, and I'm like I don't know anybody in Leesville," Giarratano said.

It looked like a local number, so she answered it anyway.

"It's a guy saying hello, he's with the Police Alliance whatever and I'm like, oh my God, y'all were the guys that were on the news!" Giarratano said.

"She knew just from the first four words that he said," her friend, Terry Kent said.

She said the caller did not respond.

"There was silence. He didn't say nothing. I said, you there? He said, yea. I said, they're looking for y'all," Giarratano said.

She couldn't believe it happened to her right after watching it on the news.

"You hear about stuff on TV and then maybe a week or so you'll hear from somebody whose auntie or somebody heard of it. Never saw one like this," said Kent, "Y'all said it last night,  it happened today."

She tried calling back, but no one answered.

"It said that all of their operators were busy at that time, to try back later," Giarratano said.

She tried again a few hours later. After several rings, an answering machine message; "Hello, thank you for calling. Unfortunately, we are unable to take your call at this time."

Giarratano was close to being another victim.

"If I wouldn't have seen it on the news. I could've definitely made a donation," Giarratano said.

There are several tips to protect yourself.

"I have an app on my phone that blocks these types of calls. When people identify calls that are scams, it just automatically gets blocked," Nam Nguyen said.

The scammers, under the name "American Police Officers Alliance," also have an online presence.

"That makes it really hard because there's a lot of great web designers now and they'll make a really really legitimate looking website. So what I would suggest people to do is to actually research that organization," Nguyen said.

You can also check organizations with the Federal Trade Commission, "Before Giving to a Charity" to see whether they are legitimate.

Another tip is asking the charity in-depth questions about who they are, what portion of your money is going towards the charity and their address.

A red flag is if they provide a number that you can't call back, or if there are spelling errors on their website.

As scams get more sophisticated, the area code they're calling from can appear local.

"They can be from anywhere. When they contact you, what they're doing  these days is they're making it seem like they're local," said Nguyen, "they'll stand up call centers with professional sound and people, they'll stand up websites that look really legitimate and everything just to make money."

The easiest tip? trust your gut. If there's unanswered questions you may want to think twice before handing over your money.

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