Charity scam visits downtown shops

A downtown business owner is warning others in Red Deer of a charity scam resurfacing in the city.

A downtown business owner is warning others in Red Deer of a charity scam resurfacing in the city.

Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, owner of Comfort the Sole, said a strange incident took place in her shoe shop last Friday when several people came in, one pulled out a banjo, and they started singing songs.

“It put my red flag up,” said Watkinson-Zimmer.

One person approached Watkinson-Zimmer asking for money. They represented themselves as soliciting donations for the Children’s Joy Foundation. Watkinson-Zimmer asked for a card, which she received.

“I felt it was a little sketchy,” said Watkinson-Zimmer. “I will check this out and I’m happy to give a donation.

“As soon as I said I will check it out on the web, the music stopped midway into O Little Town of Bethlehem and out they went.”

She said she talked with other staff at her business and they said a group claiming to be soliciting donations for the Children’s Joy Foundation had come in, asking for money, before Christmas — when Watkinson-Zimmer was away.

“They just walk in the door, play and the next thing she’s walking over with the wallet,” said Watkinson-Zimmer.

“Asking if we’d like to give a donation.”

Doing an Internet research, Watkinson-Zimmer stumbled on several news articles saying it was a scam.

Stories from Huntsville, Ont., Winnipeg, the University of New Brunswick and Wainwright identify people soliciting donations for the Children’s Joy Foundation as scammers.

In the Philippines, there is a charity called the Children’s Joy Foundation.

Its aim is to help feed, clothe, shelter and send to school three million children in that country.

But in a news article from the Borneo Post, an English language daily newspaper on the island of Borneo — part of southeast Asia — the Philippines consulate in Malaysia said people were soliciting donations without proper authorization and misrepresenting the organization.

“I could see retailers busy, and these people start strumming, and then just open their wallets and give them $10,” said Watkinson-Zimmer.

She said they were also at her business last year, staff told her.

“It seems to be going around out there and I have called around and told a few places about it,” said Watkinson-Zimmer.

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