Thursday, October 18, 2012
Scamming on the Boulevard
From the Queens Chronicle:
On a recent Thursday morning, a group of people in blue “FBI (Firm Believer In) Jesus” baseball caps and yellow reflective jackets were asking pedestrians and drivers for money at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive. They said they were from New Life Church and were collecting money for a charity that helps the homeless and abused men, women and children.
The group said that the money helps Queens residents as well as people nationwide in the above-mentioned situations.
But is the money really going to charity? The people said they are Evangelists from a Bible-based faith ministry that was formed 45 or 50 years ago. They strive to pull people off the streets while rebuilding the inner and outer man. But they had no documentation on their organization, and just explained their mission using various Bible verses.
One woman, who identified herself only as “Sister Kim,” said she was once a prostitute and that the New Life Church saved her. But she refused to say where the church is located, except that it is nearby.
A person who answered the phone at the nearest church of that name said the group was unknown to the congregation.
The leader of the group was offended when asked if the charity was legitimate. He called over some other members to confirm that it was; they all swore it was. To drive the point home, the group gave a number for a Pastor Kenny at something called the House of David, but he could not be reached.
The Federal Trade Commission says if an “organization does not give out written information about its identity, its costs, and how the donation will be used” it is most likely a scam, especially since “A legitimate organization will have no trouble providing this information.”
The group’s leader, who would not identify himself, insisted the police check on them every hour and said, “If we were doing something illegal, why wouldn’t they arrest us?”