Fire officials say imposters trying to collect money in boots - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fire officials say imposters trying to collect money in boots

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A Columbia Firefighter collects money in the Vista Wednesday. A Columbia Firefighter collects money in the Vista Wednesday.
Fire trucks can usually be seen near collection sites. Fire trucks can usually be seen near collection sites.
Firefighters collect money on Assembly Street Wednesday. Firefighters collect money on Assembly Street Wednesday.
A Columbia Firefighter collects money in the Vista Wednesday. A Columbia Firefighter collects money in the Vista Wednesday.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

You've likely seen firefighters walking Columbia area intersections collecting money in boots for charity this week.

The annual MDA Boot Drive kicked off Wednesday and will end Friday evening. Most of the men and women collecting money for the charity are legitimate, but fire officials say they are already getting reports of imposters.

Columbia Fire Department spokesperson Brick Lewis says reports of people trying to bilk the community started coming in Wednesday. Citizens reported seeing suspicious activity at Farrow Road and Beltline Boulevard and on Broad River Road near Interstate 20. Both were not locations where firefighters were collecting for the drive.

Lewis says if you are approached by someone carrying a boot who is asking for money there are a few things you should look for before handing over any cash. First, all fire department employees will also be wearing safety vests with Columbia Fire Department markings. Also, look for a fire truck or marked fire department vehicle nearby. 

If you do feel you've been approached by an imposter and don't feel comfortable donating, fire officials say you should keep your money.

You are urged to call 911 or Crimestoppers with a specific description and location if you feel you've seen somebody posing as a firefighter.

Lewis says those caught in the act will be prosecuted by law enforcement. "It's not just a misdemeanor, they will be charged with a felony," said Lewis.

The "Fill the Boot" drive is scheduled to take place from 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the following locations:

Assembly & Gervais
Huger & Blossom
Devine & Harden
Bull & Elmwood
Main & Sunset
Bush River & Broad River
South Beltline & Rosewood
Forest Drive & Beltline
Leesburg & Garners Ferry
Two Notch & Decker
Sparkleberry & Two Notch
Hwy 21 & Blythewood
Pineview & Garners Ferry
Kennerly & Broad River
Trenholm & Forest Drive
Rabon Rd & Farrow Rd
Rhame Rd & Clemson Rd

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.  MDA is funded almost entirely by individual private contributions and cooperating organizations.  Only nine percent of every dollar collected is spent on administrative costs.

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