Phone scam targets homeless veterans non-profit

4 years 11 months 6 days ago Thursday, March 19 2015 Mar 19, 2015 Thursday, March 19, 2015 6:45:00 PM CDT March 19, 2015 in News
By: Tom Barclay and Tom Kackley, KOMU 8 Reporters
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COLUMBIA - A local organization that serves homeless veterans is warning the community of a possible phone scam.

Sarah Grim, the CEO of Welcome Home, Inc., said a man posing as a veteran representing the organization began calling residents and asking for donations to "support the construction of the new Welcome Home homeless shelter project."

Grim said Penny Braun, a Welcome Home board member, notified her about the caller. Braun said she received a call from a ‘very believable male voice' claiming to represent the organization.

"I said I think you're a scam," Braun said. "It really is wretched, isn't it."

Grim then notified local police and the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau about the scam after three people reported receiving the same call. She said police ran a check on one of the phone calls and discovered it likely originated in India, but was being routed through a Washington state phone number.

"The number is listed to a group called ‘United Vets' but is not associated with Welcome Home," Grim said. "That number has been specifically identified as a nationally fraudulent number."

Grim said residents should notify local police, the Better Business Bureau or Welcome Home if they receive any suspicious calls.

Welcome Home is trying to raise donations to build a new homeless shelter in Columbia; however, Grim wanted to stress the organization is not soliciting for donations over the phone, which demonstrates the savviness of modern scam tactics.

"This is the lowest of the low," Grim said. "We don't need this to interfere with our ability to raise this money."

Welcome Home is currently trying to raise $3.5 million for a new 32 bed shelter. The organization plans to place the new shelter on the I-70 Business Loop where the vacant Deluxe Inn is currently located.

For more information about Welcome Home or to securely donate to the new shelter click here to visit the Welcome Home website.

If you believe you've received a fraudulent call from someone representing the organization or would like to report a possible scam-please contact your local police or the Better Business Bureau

Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau: (573)-886-8965

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