“About a month ago, we had a gentleman tell us that a woman came by his business and asked for cash for U Care,” said the organization’s executive director, Pamela Gonzalez. “He said that she was so convincing that he gave her a little money and she went on her way. But he thought it was strange that she would ask for cash and not a check to go to U Care. So he called me ... I didn’t hear anything else until this Monday when I got another call from a lady saying that someone left a letter in the door of her church requesting that they help her pay her rent and electric. The letter said that they were a client of ours and we were not providing that service anymore, which is a lie.”
Gonzalez said U Care has special funding provided by the state of North Carolina through the Department of Social Services, that will help domestic violence victims who qualify to help pay for those services.
“They come to us and we will refer them to Social Services and they will help them,” she said. “They will help them pay rent or whatever to help them get out of an abusive situation. The program at DSS is called TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). That money can only be used for domestic violence victims to get them out of that type of situation.”
The first scam alluded to the fact that money was needed because none existed for that service.
The second scam centers around school supplies for children at the domestic violence shelter.
Gonzalez said a second call she received later that same day was from a local business owner who said that a woman came in requesting cash to buy school supplies for children who are at U Care. The woman was brazen enough to leave an address and phone number.
“On that one, the woman went into the store and said she was collecting cash to help the children,” she said. “The business owner gave me the number and I called it and talked to the woman who answered the phone. (She) denied everything. But I know it was her phone because it came up on caller ID. These people were taking the scam to the next level by leaving the number. Victims of the scam think it must be legit because they left the number, but it is not.”
Gonzalez said that during the organization’s fund-raisings, the biggest being in February, they get the word out or the person collecting funds will actually be a U Care board member.
“We usually do an article in the paper or the person that we have doing the fund raising will have a letter that says they are raising money for U Care,” she said. “That person will willingly give the person time to call us and verify that we are doing the fund raising at that time... they encourage them to call us.”
Gonzalez said that she has contacted the Clinton Police Department, but no reports or arrests have been made in the case.
“The police went to the home of one of the people involved,” she said. “Everything she told them about needing lights and everything was true, it just didn’t have anything to do with U Care. Since she didn’t receive any money, and no crime had been committed, they couldn’t do anything.”
All of this doesn’t help at a time when the organization is continually having increases in their clients. In August, U Care saw its client base rise by a whopping 21 percent.
The money coming in from the state has decreased by 5 percent.
Bringing in some help is two Bee Hive thrift stores, located in Newton Grove and Clinton, where all proceeds go right back to the agency and its clients.
“To have someone out here trying to scam people is just not right, especially in this economy,” Gonzalez said. “To me, it is stealing and we want people to know that if they come across someone who says they are with us, to call us and we will let you know what is going on.”
Gonzalez added that U Care gives frequent updates on Facebook, as well as their website (www.ucaredv.org).
For more information or any questions call (910) 596-0931— 24 hours, 7 days a week.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or send e-mail to email@example.com.