East Texans warned against Japanese relief effort scammers

Harry Manning says his 79-yaer-old brother was contacted by a scammer.
Harry Manning says his 79-yaer-old brother was contacted by a scammer.
Cpl. Keith Lee works for the Nacogdoches Police Department.
Cpl. Keith Lee works for the Nacogdoches Police Department.

By Holley Nees - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – The massive earthquake is one of the biggest disasters Japan has ever seen and yet some are just looking to profit off the tragedy.

Lt. Jennifer Schmidt said there's a group posing to be the Salvation Army asking for donations to the Japanese relief effort.

"We love to meet human needs without any discrimination and so when things get in the way of that or when things can prevent that it is a little frustrating, but we still do what we have to do," said Schmidt.

"We get a lot of scam calls when there's any large natural disaster we get more of them," said Nacogdoches Police Department Cpl. Keith Lee.

However, scam artists aren't just after intercepting relief efforts.

Harry Manning said his 79-year-old brother was called more than six times by a Jamaican group.

"He said this man said if he's goes to Wal-mart and with $150 that they'd give him a receipt and he had won $150,000," said Manning.

He said the man kept calling back.

"Robert was confused about it and I believe if he hadn't come over and talked to us, I believe he would've went down with $150 thinking he was going to win $150,000," said Manning.

He reported the scam, but Manning said he knows there's only so much local authorities can do.

"Agencies don't have the money to send detectives to Jamaica, send detectives to Nigeria," explained Lee.  "So, it has become a major concern to law enforcement is how do we enforce these actions?"

The problem is the scam artists are almost impossible to track down and police say even if they do catch them, you're probably not going to get your money back.

Lee said the best defense is education.

He said, never give any personal information over the phone, screen area codes you don't recognize, and you should never have to pay to get more money.

"If you believe it's too good to be true it is," said Lee. "There's no free rides out there."

The Salvation Army said there are four legitimate ways people can contribute money to the Salvation Army's disaster relief efforts in Japan. The first way to give is to text the words "JAPAN" or "QUAKE" to 80888 to make a $10 donation, or you can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can also give online by going to https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org or mail a check marked "Japan earthquake relief" to The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Relief Fund at PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.

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