St Louis, MO (KFVS) - If you have gotten a phone call from the National Police Support Fund, the Better Business Bureau has some advise for you.
Think twice before giving them money.
BBB advises residents to be cautious of phone calls or mailers soliciting donations to the organization that describes itself as a grassroots movement of Americans united to support their political action activities.
National Police Support Fund representatives have been phoning potential donors in the St. Louis area over the past several weeks. The BBB said a wife of a retired police officer said she became suspicious of the solicitation after making an initial pledge of $15.
On the organization's website, a red, white and blue shield was recently shown with three stars and photographs of a flashing police emergency light. There was also the uniform of an officer with the New Jersey State Police bomb squad and two police officers with the New York City Police Department.
However, a spokesperson with the New Jersey State Police said the department has no relationship with the organization and did not authorize use of the photo of its uniform.
A spokesman for the New York City Police Department said in an emailed statement: "The NYPD does not solicit contributions. We have no affiliation with this organization. This appears to be a stock photo."
The BBB said days later, the New Jersey State Police photo had been removed from the site.
An IRS report was filed on July 26. In the report, National Police Support Fund reported about $61,000 in contributions and nearly $47,000 in expenses for the first half of 2017. The expenses – all from June of 2017 – involved payment for professional fundraising services.
One company, Grassroots Fund Group LLC of Middletown, N. J., received about $15.000; a second company, Residential Programs Inc. of Eatontown, N.J., received about $31,000.
Greg Hertling of Ocean, N. J. is CEO and owner of Residential Programs; Lee Ostrowsky is listed as president of the company.
Both Hertling and Ostrowsky are former employees with Civic Development Group, which was shut down in 2010 after a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the firm's charity solicitation practices.
BBB offers the following advice to consumers who are asked for contributions to nonprofit groups:
- Learn all you can about an organization before contributing.
- View reports on most tax-exempt nonprofits at guidestar.org. Most of these organizations are required to file what are called 990 report forms with the IRS every year.
- Donate directly to an organization and not through a fundraising telemarketer or a direct mail solicitation.
- When dealing with a charity, check with BBB for a BBB Charity Review.