Dear PoPville – Mt. Pleasant Scammer

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Photo by PoPville flickr user beaufinley

Dear PoPville,

A nice kid came to my door and animatedly pitched how he is raising money for traveling with the Cardozo Senior Marching Band. I gave him $20 to reach his $650. He wrote down my email so that the band director could send me a receipt.

I emailed the principal. They do not allow students to solicit money.

59 Comment

  • stop giving money to anyone when they knock on your damn door. these kids only do this because they can make some pretty serious money… please… it’s time to cut off the flow of cash. Thanks to PoP… continuing to raise visibility, although I thought this scam was already well known! sheesh.

  • justinbc

    Usually checking with the responsible parties is something I do -before- I give away my money.

  • Seriously. And those kids selling candy downtown. Watch the thug hanging out on the side directing the kids. That money is going to him, not any school.

  • About 2 years ago I got almost the exact same pitch from a kid who knocked on my door. I never keep cash on hand but I told him I would follow up later if they had a website or something. The URL he gave me never worked and I actually tried to find it just googling around. I still want to believe that kid was going to Florida with the band!

  • Anyone here looking for a bridge perchance? I have a couple to unload at a reasonable price.

    • I also have some scrap metal that I can sell… it’s just in the shape of the Eiffel Tower at the moment. French gov’t wants to keep the demolition hush hush.

    • Can anyone trade me a $20 for these 2 $10′s?

  • also, that guy with the ladder who wants $20 to clean your gutters:

    not going to clean your gutters.

  • I’m not disagreeing with anyone’s comments here, but it disappoints me greatly that times have changed since I was a kid. When I sold Girl Scout cookies, pizzas, wrapping paper, whatever – people just believed me and I didn’t need to provide verification that I wasn’t running a scam. It makes me feel bad for kids that really ARE trying to fundraise, only to be denied a sale because someone has to do their due diligence. Perhaps it’s different in suburbs.

    • I believe if you buy girl scout cookies you don’t pay in advance. So at least the girl scouts are safe.

      • I pay in advance if I know them, but usually strangers dont because who would do that?

        • justinbc

          Isn’t it always the parents who bring that crap into work anyway? And try to guilt you into boosting their kids #’s?

          • Emilie504

            There is no guilt in buying GS cookies! At my work we hunt down the GS parents and pester them until cookie season.

          • Ugh, yes. My mom made me do all my fundraising myself to teach me that if I wanted something I needed to work for it – it was not going to be handed to me by my parents. I’ve taken that lesson into adulthood. I’ll buy if the kid is with the parent and asks me to buy. But if the parent is selling what the kid is supposed to sell – Nope, not going to do it. No guilt at all. And if they push, I tell them exactly why – the kid is supposed to be the one fundraising, and the kid isn’t fundraising.

          • justinbc

            Yeah there’s no guilt for me, since I don’t actually like those cookies. I just say “no I won’t eat them” and that usually shuts them up.

  • Since I submitted this, and seemed to reap the wrath for doing so, I would like to point out that there are still a lot of legit organizations that go door to door seeking funds for very worthy programs. Not too very long ago, I raised money for my school by going door to door and more recently at my childrens’ school, they were asked to sell candy bars to raise money. Yes, a fool and his money are easily parted but being charitable is not a foolish thing. I made a mistake but once I quickly learned about it, I chose to share my experience so that others wouldn’t get scammed. Fail to see why I should be chided and mocked for doing so, but then a lot of posts I read seem to be more about firing off the most pithy remark. If you really need a venue for snarky comments, do stand up or run for office.

    • As a person that remembers the hardships of fundraising door to door, I hope you continue to be generous and caring. Don’t let the jaded people get to you.

    • Children selling anything door-to-door to fund their school is obscene. Round them up and march them down to Congress instead to demand well-funded education. For special projects – a band trip, etc. – o.k. that’s extra – but they can do a car wash, bake sale or offer to weed my garden.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience – as you said, there are legitimate orgs that fundraise door to door. And fundraising to support a high school band trip is very plausible.

      Posting this is a community service.

    • I’ve lived in DC 15+ years and never heard of this particular scam.

      I’ve seen (and almost fallen for) the “trade $20 for two $10″ scam, the “my kid is sick and needs to go to children’s hospital” scam, the “please buy our school cookies” scam, the “I’m a Marine and just got mugged” scam, and the “I’m from Ireland and just had my passport, wallet, and hotel key stolen” scam. So, I’m not naive.

      That all being said, I would probably give a kid going door-to-door money for a band trip. Pretty sad that this city is so full of scammers that even an seemingly innocent school fundraiser can be exploited.

      • Last time I gave anyone money other than pocket change was a guy in Union Station that needed a ticket home in 2000. I think I saw him there again a few months later.

      • They usually use Ballou and not Cardozo because Ballou was/is considered one of the best marching bands in the country. The scam has been around for a while.

      • I will ask for the kid’s name and the name of his band director. I’ll tell him I’ll donate once I’ve talked to his band director. If it is legit, the kid won’t mind. If it is not legit, s/he’ll bail. I am a huge band nerd and don’t mind donating to a good cause, but I need to know where my $ is going. Plus, most schools do sales of some sort rather than direct donations.

      • Not only should you never give anyone money, but you shouldn’t even open your front door. Home invasion is a very real problem in DC and it is unlikely any random person coming to your door will have anything important to tell you.

    • All in good fun. I don’t think any of the comments were mean spirited.

    • I fell for this several months ago, and gave the kid $5. As someone who grew up in the suburbs, it seemed plausible at the time – but I did have a weird feeling afterward, as something didn’t feel entirely right. Thanks to the OP for pointing this out.

      And I disagree that children fundraising door-to-door is inherently obscene – of course schools should be well-funded, but what are they supposed to do in the short term if they need money?

    • Welcome to the internet. ;)

    • justinbc

      Did the kid have any sort of documentation at all? A pamphlet of the trip they wanted to take? Anything…? You’re talking a high school right, so one would assume it’s not just a cute face like an elementary student. If he just said “but we REAAAAALLY want to go!” vividly then yeah, you’ve totally got to accept some of the fault of ignorance on this one.

      • The submission to POPville was not excuse myself from culpability. I got played by a street hustler. From the LONG list of other handwritten email addresses, I am assuming A LOT of other people got hustled too. And yes, he had a pamphlet and photos from other competitions. Whatever. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Far more interesting, and disappointing, than the repercussion from getting swindled, is all of the worthless negative retorts – scrap metal, bridges… hilarious, really. Original. …. and the diatribes from those who are surely socio-economists…. (just because DC pays it’s teachers higher than any other educational jurisdiction in the area does NOT mean the students are better educated. Andover? Give me a break. Better yet, have a kid and educate him. Even if you live in Fairfax, you will find want, need and subpar facilities at some time during that child’s education). What was meant to be a “Heads Up” denigrated into a snide free all social commentary.

        • Dude you’ve pretty much jumped the shark. It is the internet. You did a very foolish thing with predictable results, then posted it on the internet.

          If you are so sensitive to others legitimate critisisms of you, then I would suggest NOT posting about the escapades on the inter-tubes.

        • The proper way to give a “heads up” is to say what you have to say and then move on to other business. Don’t stick around to see what people do with the information. Especially on the internet.

        • and what exactly is wrong with taxpayers demanding “bang for their buck?”

          If I’m spending twice the national average on a kid’s education, why should I be guilted into spending even more?

          Man, you really are gullible. A fool and his money..

          • Who’s guilting anyone? Who’s banging for buck (no really, who is doing that right now…. my phone is down). Seriously. Have a drink. Gullible, charitable, naive, stupid, generous. words. Point is, someone pointed out a scam. Problem with that is…..?

        • “From the LONG list of other handwritten email addresses, I am assuming A LOT of other people got hustled too.”

          Uh, yeah – or perhaps it was a prop he created to further the scheme?

          You’re not doing much to dispel the perception of naivete you’ve built up.

  • There are typically men roaming around the parking lots near Nationals Park, claiming to be little league coaches who are raising money for their teams, asking for donations. Does anyone know if this is legit? It’s the same guys day after day, all summer long.

    • If someone is there day after day, when are they actually coaching Little League?

      I’m sure you can figure out the answer to your question.

  • I hate to be cynical but who the hell gives random people at your door money?!

  • I’ve also encountered the “my wife is in labor at Providence Hospital and I need cab fare to get over there” twice in the U Street area in the past few months. I told the guy, “Get lost, loser. I’ve heard that one before.” Seriously, I’ve never even heard of Providence Hospital. I’m not sure if it’s the same guy or not.

    • it’s a real hospital. But he probably doesn’t really have a wife in labor. Next time, just try “oh my gosh–she’s in labor! I’ll call 911 and they’ll send a cop or an ambulance to drive you right over!’ and see what happens…either he’ll back off or you’ll help a woman have her baby somewhere other than U St.

    • Providence is a hospital in Brookland on 12st in NE. It wouldn’t be at the top of my list to go there as a patient if I were to have a choice, but it does in fact exist.

      • er 12th St, not “12st”. These fancy italicized letters in the new comment box confused me apparently.

    • If it is the same guy, he sure has a lot of baby mamas out there.

  • “I would like to point out that there are still a lot of legit organizations that go door to door seeking funds for very worthy ”

    Yeah, maybe in Ashburn VA.

    I would challenge you to name two legit organizations that have come to your door asking for money in the past 2 years.

    You live in a city, one that is more divided by race and economics than just about any other in the nation and in living here you would be wise to think twice about anyone coming to you on the street, to your house asking for money because as many years of experience have taught us, 99% of the time it is a scam.

    And to be honest the kids from Cardozo are terrors anyway. I’ve lived a block away for 10 years, and the past 18 months of it being closed for renovation have been the quietest, least destructive, least street trashy 18 months since I’ve lived there. I am dreading them reopening the school this fall.

  • Wow, lots of cynics on this post. I’d rather know about this stuff going on in my neighborhood even if I DID think it was dumb/gullible/obvious/whatever because then you’re on alert for the scammers as opposed to being caught off guard. Also – maybe someone out there isn’t as smart as you (or is just more generous and inclined to believe there aren’t so many jerks in this world), they have benefitted from the original poster sharing his/her embarassment with the internet – so props to him/her!

    • +100. For every craptastic bitter remark on here, I bet there are just as many people who believe the OP did the right thing by sharing. Dude said it right though about jumping the shark. most of these posts have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  • I do one donation per year. I write a check to Planned Parenthood Federation, with provides health care to a lot of poor women. Sorry, but I turn everybody else down.

  • check out this list of the worst charities to contribute to, in terms % that actually make it to help people http://www.tampabay.com/americas-worst-charities/

    makes giving money to scammers seem like pitance.

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