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Scam Artists Dial for Dollars for a Fake Charity : Monterey Park: Police say the callers ask for money for the Police Officers Assn. widows and orphans fund. The association doesn't even have such a fund.


MONTEREY PARK — Police are warning residents to be wary of a telephone scam in which callers claim to be collecting money for the widows and orphans fund of the Monterey Park Police Officers Assn.

Detective Wes Clair, president of the association, said his group is not soliciting contributions and has no connection to the salesmen, who in the last month have requested donations ranging from $35 to $125.

"These guys will say anything to get money out of people," said Clair, adding that in one instance a caller even identified himself as a Monterey Park police sergeant. "The only difference is some are greedier than others."

The police association does not have a widows and orphans fund.

Clair described the operation as a "boiler-room" scam, in which callers pass themselves off as representatives of different police agencies depending on the community they are targeting.

In return for pledging a donation, the victim receives a package--delivered c.o.d.--in an envelope bearing the name of various police journals, Clair said.

In one $125 package Clair intercepted at a United Parcel Service office, there was a discount coupon from a rental car agency, a commendation from an international police union, a brochure on law enforcement and a sticker reading, "I support my police."

"It's a crock," Clair said.

In Monterey Park, police have received 30 to 40 complaints from residents suspicious of the phone solicitors.

However, no one has yet come forward to say they were defrauded. Even the intended recipient of the $125 package shied away from pressing charges, Clair said.

An official with the California Police Officers Assn., whose logo appears on one of the envelopes seized by Clair, said she was not aware of the problem and vowed to investigate the complaint.

"Certainly we don't condone this type of misrepresentation," said Leslie McGill, communications and marketing manager for the 69-year-old organization. "The last thing we want is to tarnish our reputation."

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