7 On Your Side: Soliciting money, pretending it's for a good cause

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Solicitors have already hit several Tyler neighborhoods with a very good pitch: selling magazines or children's books, in part to benefit the St. Paul Children's Foundation. But, that charity tells us they are not getting a cent.

"It makes me very angry, you know, there's no reason to lie and cheat and steal," said Saleen Hearon, with St. Paul's. "St. Paul is very well respected in this community so people go, 'Oh, it's for the children? Let me write you a check.'"

One victim told us she wrote a check for more than $100. Others donated cash.

"Not only are they preying on innocent and, in a lot of cases, older citizens, but they're using children to do it," said Hearon.

The BBB traced the company to Arizona.

"Experience LLC is not rated, meaning that we don't have sufficient information about this company," said Mechele Agbayani, with the BBB of East Texas.

What's even more fishy is that their website just went offline.

"I would be very cautious and, again, typically charitable organizations are not going to go door to door," said Agbayani.

Hearon says the sad part is schemes like this can destroy people's trust and giving spirit.

"Who knows what kind of damage something like this could do?" said Hearon. "The next time St. Paul goes out and tries to raise money someone's going to go, 'Hmm, is this really St. Paul?'"

Hearon hopes Tyler Police catch the young men quickly, and their punishment? She hopes it will be community service.

"First thing they need to do is make restitution to every single one of the families that they took money from...let you come see any one of the 120 families that walk through our door and let you take care of them for awhile," said Hearon. "That'll make you think twice before you take from people."

The BBB asks you be on your guard because there's no telling where they might hit next. Victims say the young men are well dressed, and claim to go to school at UT Tyler. If you have given money to these young men, the BBB asks you notify them so they can compile all the complaints.

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