Scammers calling Columbus citizens trying to get donations for youth police camp

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COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Police are warning citizens about a scam going around. Scammers are calling people pretending to represent the Columbus Police Department and claiming they are raising money for a youth program.

“Brazen comes to mind,” said Lt. Matt Harris, with the Columbus Police Department.

The callers act like they’re collecting donations for the “CPD Junior Police Camp.” But the city doesn’t even have a youth program under that name.

“It’s disappointing that someone would try to use the positive reputation, not only of this police department but also the number of programs we put on for the public, to try and bilk honest people out of their hard earned money,” said Lt. Harris.

In the past week, officers have received at least a dozen calls from residents reporting they have received this type of phone call.

“What we want people to remember is the Columbus Police Department does not solicit money over the phone for anything,” said Lt. Harris.

CBS4 talked with one mother who received this phony call. She told us she wasn’t on the line for more than 30 seconds before she told the caller she wasn’t interested, he then hung up on her.

“Just stop, it’s ridiculous they are so many other ways to make money, get a job. Be a good citizen, be a good person, do the right thing, don’t try to steal money away from good-hearted individuals that care about others,” said Melinda, a Columbus resident who received the call.

One victim reported to police that the scammer sounded convincing and was very persistent for personal information.

“We want people to trust their instincts that if something doesn’t feel right, just hang up.

The closest thing the Columbus Police Department has to a “CPD Junior Police Camp” is the Police and Fire Youth Academy. Every summer about 100 kids go through a weeklong program for free. The cost is provided through donations from local businesses.

“They get a firsthand look at what law enforcement is really like and it’s fun for them, it’s fun for the officers. It’s something we’re proud of so it’s disappointing that someone would try to deceive the public in this manner,” said Lt. Harris.

So far, there are no reports of anyone falling victim to this scam. If the scammers are caught, they could be charged with fraud.

The Columbus Police Department has several programs that depend on donations. If you’re interested in supporting any Columbus Police Department’s programs you can stop by the police station or call (812) 376-2600.

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