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BC warns of fundraiser scam

Company said to solicit donations on fake letterhead

— The Bethlehem Central School District is warning residents to be on the lookout for a scam letter masquerading as a school-sanctioned fundraiser.

The mailing on fake BC letterhead tells the recipient BC sports teams are printing sports calendars or postcards and offers the opportunity for individuals or businesses to sponsor the athletics program. The mailer asks for a credit card number or banking information.

The district is not conducting such fundraiser, and would never solicit credit card information, said Superintendent Michael Tebbano.

“A parent in town contacted us right away and informed us that something did not debit right onto the checking account for this fundraiser, and that alerted us,” Tebbano said.

The district also heard from a local business that donated to the company, he added.

The district alerted police and the state attorney general's office of the scam. The company, Signature Sports and Sports Media, generates billing statements that appear to be from the district, but have fine print indicating it's not affiliated with BC. The district sent the company a cease and desist order and Tebbano said the company has agreed to repay several people impacted by the scam.

The scheme comes at a time when school districts across the state are cutting back. Extracurricular programming often comes on the chopping block.

“I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the motive is,” Tebbano said. “Obviously there are people who are very eager to support an educational program, and in these times of need people are eager to help out.”

Any resident targeted by the scam is advised to submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Complaint Resource Center, which can be found at http://www.ag.ny.gov/resource_center/complaints/complaints.html.

The district also suggests residents call the Athletics Department to verify sports-related fundraisers, which includes activities by the Bethlehem Central Athletic Association. The Athletics Department can be reached at (518) 439-4921, ext. 22113

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