Saturday, January 7, 2017

CANDY BAR SCAM



I just recently wrote about the latest phone scam.  People calling saying they are the IRS.  Trying to Phish your information or fleece you out of money.  I have seen that one before.  Most people won't fall for it.  But from what is out there to read, these scammers are raking in millions from some poor souls.

Then today 1/7/2017 the scammers came in the form of 10'ish year old boys selling candy bars right at the front doors of my local grocery store. (Smith's on W. Charleston - Las Vegas, Nevada).  Something quite common for the Girl Scouts and other organizations.  I didn't give things a second thought when it all happened.

This is nothing against the WFC Fund raiser company.  I am sure they help many legitimate fund raisers raise well meaning proceeds.  I have had kids in band and sports and know the drill.  None of this will dampen my future donations to legit fund raisers using this product.  I doubt they have any control over what hands their products land in.  But they might want safe guards in place to save tarnishing their name?  I know I am going to be much more cautious and skeptical going forward.

These boys were polite enough when they asked that I buy chocolate bars to raise money for their baseball team.  One bar for $3, 2 for $5, or a real bargain donation of five for $8.  In hindsight I remember thinking $3 for the dinky 1.3 oz bars???  I did the $5 deal and walked away with two.  The whole point, at that moment in time, was all about donating.  Not what I was getting in return.  On the other hand I don't want someone scamming the good natured side of me.  I find that very irritating.

I had no intentions of eating the chocolate bars just because I don't need to be eating candy.  But the wife loves chocolate.  So when I made it home and  walked in the door I said "Honey I have a treat for you".  I noticed then the price on the chocolate bar was $1.00.  We both got into a conversation over this.  Thinking that is the donation price, not the fund raiser purchase price.  We even did some on-line investigation because we were curious. We were thinking these could be purchased for 50 cents or less, if the donation price was suppose to be $1.  Certainly something less than $1.  At $3 resale, that seemed like a nice profit margin for a fund raiser.  In my mind if this was all legit, it was still not an issue. 

The money was not the point of all of this.  If it were I would have simply walked by and not "donated" in the first place.  I knew I was getting nothing of equal value in return in the form of the product.  From time to time I open my heart to some of the homeless that need help.  Much depends on how I am approached, where I am approached, and how I am asked.  In that type of donation the only thing in return might be a smile or a thank you.  I realize even some of those are simply scammers.  It comes with big city living I suppose.  But many have become immune and always walk by without making eye contact with someone the probably does need help.  It's hard to know.

The long story short of this candy bar scam is, we ended up calling the grocery store and spoke with the manager.  At first just wanting to know if the kids fund raiser was legit. If they had some type of vetting process for people standing at the door collecting/selling for fund raisers.  We kind of got the impression this fund raiser might be ripping people off unsuspecting people.  I am all about price raises and cost of living increases.....the $3 bar didn't seem too far fetched these days.  So maybe we were wrong.

The store manager said these boys had no permission, they have been run off on several occasions, and that other customers are complaining and actually calling metro.  So there is was.  Nothing more than a scam in this case.

So the moral of this story is my soft heart is a little less soft.  My wallet not so easily opened.  My eyes opened a little wider now knowing this latest scam.  At the very least I am going to be more observant.  I have to assume there is an adult or group of adults behind this.  That these young kids are being used in this scam while the adults are safely hidden, and out of the picture.  If so, just think what these young kids are learning.  My only pleasure is the karma that might be bestowed upon the people behind this.

I have been in third world countries where this type of thing is common place.  I never thought the USA would become this way.  Just more proof of the moral decay our country is experiencing in many ways.

My suggestion is before making a donation in front of a store do some fact checking first.  Especially if things don't seem right.  No signs, no uniforms, no adults around.  Don't donate going in.  While in the store ask an employee or manager about the fund raiser before you leave the store.  Legit fund raisers get store approval.  Do your donation on the way out.  In hindsight these kids had no sign, no uniforms, and no adult supervision that was noticeable  If it is legit, then by all means open your heart and wallet.  This is the life blood of some legit organizations.

Unfortunately I am less likely to shop at stores that allow this to go on.  If they choose to look away, not get serious about prevention and security, they will loose me as a customer. This usually morphs into getting approached at your vehicle in the parking lot.  Those contacts becomes a more serious personal security issue for the unsuspecting and the distracted.  I personally don't shop where this goes on.

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