Sacto 9-1-1
November 11, 2009
Teen suspected in McClatchy High donations scam

From Kim Minugh

Sacramento police are considering the arrest of an 18-year-old man who appears to have been fraudulently soliciting donations for a McClatchy High School scholarship fund.

Officers contacted the man, who has not been identified because he has not been arrested, after a skeptical Land Park resident began questioning the man, said police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

The man said he was selling subscriptions to the San Francisco Chronicle to benefit a McClatchy High scholarship fund, Leong said. Residents could either buy the subscriptions or he would take their donation directly, he told neighbors.

But when the curious resident asked for proof of his connection to McClatchy High, he couldn't produce any, Leong said. The resident then called police, who questioned the man.

He couldn't provide proof or school identification, Leong said. Paperwork in his possession showed he had been running the scam for several days and had collected as much as $150, Leong said.

Officers contacted victims, but they declined to pursue prosecution - that is, until officers released the man and he apparently continued the scam, Leong said. The investigation continues, and the man faces potential charges of theft or fraud, Leong said. Officers also confiscated the paperwork and the $60 in cash the man had on him.

Such solicitations are not unusual, Leong said, and police generally discourage residents from giving any cash or checks to people who go door-to-door.

Residents can ask for identification or proof of a connection to an organization; however, Leong said, "there's no good way to know for sure."

"Best bet is to not give money to people you don't know," he said.

Anyone who sees a man claiming to be working on behalf of the McClatchy High fund - or any other solicitor who appears suspicious - is asked to call police at the department's non-emergency line, (916) 264-5471.

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