Berkeley cops warn of door-to-door fundraising scam

January 3, 2011 8:24:15 PM PST
Police in Berkeley are warning of door-to-door solicitors posing as fundraisers at local schools. The warnings are coming out of Berkeley, but the same scam is taking place all over the Bay Area.

Bob Glantz of Berkeley has a no solicitation sign at his front door. But the sign doesn't always work.

"I've had people come with clipboards and ask me could I contribute to, for example, a fund to help a middle school with the music program," says Glantz who later found out it was a scam.

"All of the Berkeley Unified School District do no door-to-door solicitation for money, ever," says Sgt. Mary Kusmiss with the Berkeley Police Department. "Ultimately it's a scam. It's fraud."

She says this scam has been around for years, but police have seen a recent surge in complaints. The fake solicitors can make people nervous, even a bit scared.

"We do get calls from time to time where a solicitor is particularly aggressive and/or becomes angry that the person says no," she says.

Many have reported to police fears that these sales people are actually casing their homes to possibly break in later.

"And if you're really uncomfortable with the situation, get as much detail as you can and call us because we certainly want to know who's moving through our community and what their purposes are at any time," says Kusmiss.

Glantz says he has learned a trick or two to keep scammers away.

"If they're asking for a donation, I ask them to whom shall I write the check. As soon as I say 'check,' the scam artists flee because they want just cash," he says.

Ultimately, you don't have to answer the door. If you prefer, you can talk through your door and tell them to leave the material outside.