S.C. Troopers Association warns potential donors of apparent imposter - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

S.C. Troopers Association warns potential donors of apparent imposter

(Statewide) Nov. 29, 2005 - If you received a call soliciting money for the South Carolina Troopers Association, you'd better do your homework before pulling out your checkbook. There's an organization raising a lot of money that some people think is connected to SCTA, but they have nothing to do with the real South Carolina Troopers Association .

Martha Rast has experience with the group, "The man represented himself as a volunteer for the South Carolina Patrol. I just felt uncomfortable the way the man pushed me. He was so aggressive on the phone."

Rast thought she was donating to the South Carolina Troopers Association, but the SCTA says that's not the way they do business at all. David Latiemer of the SCTA says, "We don't do anything like that. We don't run any campaign like that. These individuals apparently were using our name in some form or fashion to solicit donations."

SC Secretary of State Mark Hammond, "We have numerous reports of them misleading charitable donors."

Hammond is talking about Xentel Incorporated. People like Rast say the group claims they're taking donations for South Carolina Firefighter and State Trooper Organizations, but they're based in Florida. Hammond says, "We have numerous violations totaling $268,000 and also 132 actual violations."

How do they get people to give? WIS obtained a copy of a Xentel fundraising phone call in which they ask for help in their "efforts to find missing or abducted children."

Martha says that's exactly the same pitch she heard. And when the caller attempts to verify their identity, "So do I make a check out to the South Carolina Troopers Association?"

They respond yes.

When the potential donor asks if donations are tax deductible, Xentel says, "Just like last year, it's all tax deductible."

The real Trooper's Association says that's not true in their case, "Although we're a non-profit organization, contributions or gifts to the organization are not tax deductible."

The caller asks, "Now how much of that money actually goes to these programs?"

The Xentel rep responds, "We mail everything to them and they're a non-profit organization, okay. The company I work for gets a small percentage of that also."

That depends on what you mean by small. Xentel, the fundraising company, actually gets 85 percent of all South Carolina donations. A percentage also goes to a Troopers Association, in Florida.

But none of the money raised by Xentel goes to the real South Carolina Troopers Association.

And the real Association is not happy, according to Latiemer, "We want them to be banned from soliciting in the state of South Carolina, sending a clear message that fraudulent telemarketing is not going to be tolerated in South Carolina."

In the meantime, Xentel is still making fundraising calls in South Carolina. The company is going to court to appeal the fines. The company also says they make millions of calls in South Carolina and they don't believe 132 violations is that bad.

So, how can you tell whether you're making a donation to a legitimate organization? Ask a lot of questions, get as much info as you can over the phone, and then contact the organization directly and check them out with the South Carolina Secretary of State's office.

If you get one of the fundraising calls, you can report it to the Secretary of State's office by calling them at 1-888-CHARITI, or you can download a complaint form to mail.

Reported by Judi Gatson

Posted 10:15pm by Chantelle Janelle

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