VELDA CITY, Mo. - The Velda City police chief says "evil" scammers are trying to rip off people in his city.
The con-artists are calling and sending letters. They ask for credit card numbers and money through the mail. They say your dollars will help families of fallen officers. It's a lie.
Paulino said he and his officers set up a benevolent fund six months ago after a Velda City officer killed himself. His family couldn't afford a headstone, so the fund helped them buy one. It also can help officers hurt in the line of duty. The chief said several residents called him in the last few weeks to ask if he was asking for donations for the fund.
"It got our attention very quickly because we haven't solicited for funds," he said.
It's not just calls. Alderman James Buchanan got a letter from the National Law Enforcement Police Officers Fund asking him to send a minimum $10 donation. If he can't afford that, the letter asks him to send $5 through the mail.
"It's a red flag," said Buchanan.
NewsChannel 5 checked the letter. The tax ID number on the letter doesn't match the real non-profit's ID number. The address on the letter is different than the agency's address in DC. The agency's website said you can contribute to the agency online, through monthly giving, workplace and corporate giving, and planned giving. It doesn't ask you to send money through the mail.
"It makes me sad because you got people like vultures preying on innocent people," said Buchanan.
He looks at the scammers through different eyes.
With tears in his eyes, he says officers "put their life on the line everyday every minute every time they stop a car, and they have to deal with this?"
So far nobody in Velda City fell for the scammers.
Chief Paulino said he's trying to track the con-artists down but it's difficult. Until they call back and somebody asks them questions like "What's your name? What's your phone number? What organization do you work for?"
He's hoping this story will alert other police departments in case the scammers try calling people in other cities.