Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Dialing for Dollars
No one likes to get calls from telemarketers looking for money. One man says he was outraged when a group told him they could get him out of traffic tickets if he donated to the police. Investigative reporter, Carmel Cafiero is on the Case.
WSVN -- James Pennington: "The first thing they told me was that they were the Broward Sheriff's Office, and they kind of were laughing and joking and said that, don't worry you are not under arrest."
James Pennington says getting a call from someone identifying themselves as the law would put anyone on edge.
James Pennington: "They were asking for a donation, and in return they said that they would actually send me a gold plated star that I could put on my license plate."
A gold star that came with benefits.
James Pennington: "Once you give us a donation, you will not get pulled over by the Broward Sheriff's Office."
Pennington knew that couldn't be right, and he suspected the group wasn't even really the police.
James Pennington: "At that point, it upset me, so I just hung up the phone."
James did the right thing, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Jim Leljedal: "Police departments do not call and ask for money on the telephone. There is something wrong when you get those calls."
BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal says local police organizations do raise money for various causes but should never promise that the gold star or other emblems given to donors will get anyone out of a ticket.
Jim Leljedal: "That indicates to everybody on the road that perhaps you are a supporter of law enforcement, but it doesn't grant you any special rights."
J & G of South Florida is the company that called Pennington. It is properly registered with the state and there are no complaints against the Sunrise business. It says none of its workers claim to be police.
Larry Stracuzza: "If any of our people did that, they would be terminated, and we have terminated people in the past for that kind of activity."
Julius Fisher and Larry Stracuzza say their employees have a script to follow.
Larry Stracuzza: "I'm calling on behalf of the Fraternal order of police, lodge number, whatever lodge it may be, and the reason we are calling this year, it's our annual fund raising drive, and we're hoping we can count on your support."
And they say workers never promise to get anyone out of a ticket.
Julius Fisher: "We can monitor everything that is being said, and we do that. Not only do we monitor, we have police officers monitoring it also."
Al Stanco is with the Plantation Fraternal Order of Police. He handles any complaints for J & G and says, most of the time, people receiving the calls are not hearing correctly.
Al Stanco: "The solicitors would say this is the Fraternal Order of Police calling, and the person only hears police, and they think it's a police officer that's calling."
BSO says if you get a call, and you're in doubt, get a call back number.
Jim Leljedal: "If you ask them for their phone number ,and they are legitimate, they'll give you the phone number and let you call them back. If it's a scam, you won't get a phone number out of them."
Carmel Cafiero: "J & G, meanwhile, says James Pennington must have misunderstood what he was told when the company called, but he insists he didn't misunderstand a thing."
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