Fake Mailers Divert Donations Away From Fire Department
THIS DID NOT HAPPEN IN OUR AREA, ALTHOUGH WE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE EVERYONE AWARE IN CASE WE START TO RECEIVE ANYTHING LOCAL.
EAST STROUDSBURG — Residents of the Poconos may have received more than one letter this year soliciting donations for Acme Hose Co. No. 1, the fire department of East Stroudsburg Borough, but only one of them is the real thing.
An unknown sender who claims to collect money on behalf of the borough’s firefighters is circulating fraudulent messages via mail, Acme Fire Chief Dale Fetterly said on Monday. No such person or organization has passed those funds along to the fire company.
“These people have never given us any money,” Fetterly said. “We got a picture of the letters they’re sending out. It’s got our name on it, but it’s not us soliciting the donations.”
Coincidentally, Acme is seeking legitimate donations via mail at this time, Fetterly said. The company holds an annual fundraiser with mailers that usually go out the first week of August.
“It’s just uncanny,” he said. “I don’t know if they were watching our mailers the last couple years or what, but they nailed it timing-wise.”
Acme’s authentic mailer — which is sent only to residents within East Stroudsburg Borough limits — provides a pre-marked envelope and clear instructions on how to send funds directly to the fire station’s 380 Chestnut Street address. This year’s version is printed in black and red ink. An image of one of the company’s fire trucks is visible through the mailing envelope’s front window.
The counterfeit mailer, which is also printed in black and red ink, asks donors to make their contributions to a third-party “Volunteer Firefighter Alliance.” The donation envelope included with that mailer is printed with an address in Topeka, Kansas.
“We were given a heads up by Marshalls Creek Fire Company on Saturday night,” Fetterly said. “These fake mailers have showed up in Marshalls Creek, Winona Lakes, all over the place.”
This apparent fraud follows on the heels of a similar scam reported in the area this month. Stroud Township Volunteer Fire Department warned in early August that someone was falsely claiming to collect donations for the department via phone calls.
It is not the practice of Stroud Township fire department to make such requests over the phone, Assistant Chief David Smalley had said. The department does use mailers to solicit donations, but those are usually sent around the month of November and addressed to the Stroud Township fire station directly.
Fetterly warns recipients of any such communications to be mindful of the actual sender.