First responders warn of donation scams by email, phone

First responders are there every time we call for help -- but they say there's a scam you need to look out for.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - They come whenever we call for help, so calls asking for money to help law enforcement should draw donations.

“When you receive a donation envelope, can we count on you for a small donation for the drive?,” a telemarketer asked.

Telemarketing for the Washington, D.C.-based Police Officers Support Association has a Nebraska law enforcement organization responding.

“The Nebraska State FOP has only heard of this organization because we received complaints and looked into it, and we seriously question the legitimacy of this group,” said Matt Barrall with the Nebraska State Fraternal Order of Police.

Instead of buying vests and rescue equipment, the Police Officers Support Association says it gives money to political candidates.

But what percentage do the telemarketers keep?

“There is not an exact percentage for this campaign because it’s a new telefunding effort,” a telemarketer told 6 News.

Zero percent of the fundraising has gone to the Nebraska FOP, but the telemarketer claims its backing.

A different campaign, this one by email, has other first responders fired up. It asks if one approves of the Omaha Fire Department to click “yes” or “no,” but nobody knows why it’s going around.

“Nobody asked permission,” said Trevor Towey with the Omaha Firefighters Union. “They’re just trying to make everybody think that this is coming from the Omaha firefighters or Omaha Firefighters Union, and that’s simply not the case.”

The fire department nor the city sent the email either, but the real purpose is in small print on the bottom line -- a donation request from a Chicago political action group.

“If somebody is asking you for money online, I’d be suspicious of that anyways,” Towey said.

First responders often save lives -- and now our money, with a warning to check out fundraisers who may be helping themselves more than others.

If you get a request for money to help first responders, ask hard questions like who will benefit locally. Then call that organization or agency before you donate. 6 News was unable to reach either fundraising group for comment.