Beware of “Badge Charities” Trying to Scam You
In the last few weeks, I’ve received half a dozen unsolicited phone calls asking for donations. Has anyone else been getting these calls?
Each call is the same. It begins with a heavily-accented screener (probably based in a foreign call center) who asks if this is (insert my name). Then, he or she proceeds to read from a lengthy script. The pitch espouses the virtues of “supporting law enforcement.” Somewhat hidden within the message is critical information about this call that’s easy to miss given the way the pitch is read combined with the accent of the speaker, which is sometimes difficult to understand. Note: This is probably intentional.
[PARAPHRASING] “….supporting our brave men and women who risk their lives daily for our safety requires that we back candidates who give law enforcement the support they need….”
Then, the caller continues with benign generalities about supporting local police, which makes it seem the “charity” is assisting law enforcement personnel directly (it’s undefined as to what if any monies raised go to the officers and their families).
Finally, the pitch goes something like this: “….we are counting on you to show your support for law enforcement at this critical time. Please hold on and I’ll transfer you to (name of someone who claims to be with the police department)…..”
It’s very intimidating if you didn’t catch the fact this is a POLITICAL FUNDRAISING call. It’s clever, but it’s also deceptive. And most listeners won’t catch on to the fact that most money raised goes directly to the fundraisers (not police officers) and political campaigns.
Some of these solicitations, which are similar in nature, claim to be police and fire charities, doing similar fundraising. These too, are nothing but scams. In many cases, these predators known as “Badge Charities” aren’t charities at all. Instead, they’re independent political action committees–or super PACs.
So, the next time you receive a call that starts out with, “we support police officers who risk their lives daily protecting our communities. Can the police officers count on you?” — chances are, you are being lied to and/or scammed.
How to Respond: I usually set the phone down and let the pitch continue for as long as they want to talk. I want to waste as much of their time as possible.