Kowaliga fire department warns of scam

Published 6:54pm Friday, August 15, 2014

Residents along the southern end of Lake Martin are being warned about possible scam artists seeking donations, while posing as members of the Kowaliga Volunteer Fire Department.

The department’s vice president and treasurer Terry Young, said there have been two groups of people who have been going door- to-door and passing out flyers in the Russell Lands subdivisions seeking money.

Young sent out a community-wide letter to residents to let them know that the fire department is not going door-to-door asking for donations.

“If you are giving them money, you are giving money to a stranger,” he said.

Ricky Lowery, chief deputy of the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department, said the department has received some calls, but no official complaints have been filed.

“We’re looking into this and hope to gather more information from residents and the fire department,” he said.

Young said two men have been passing out flyers saying they were members of the Kowaliga Volunteer Fire Department, while two women also have been passing out different flyers saying they, too, were with a fire department.

Young said the two women were with a department, but not in Elmore County.

“We caught the two ladies on video surveillance cameras and found out they are a spinoff of another department from another town and another county,” Young said. “I don’t think what they have been doing is illegal, but it is unethical.”

On one of the flyers, it claims the money is for a photo shoot for children on fire trucks, but supplies no name or phone number.

Nick Milner, who just happened to be in Kowaliga area a few days ago said he met the two women and gave them $40.

“They said they were with the search and rescue side of the Kowaliga Volunteer Fire Department and were selling pictures to raise money for the search and rescue,” he said. “I gave them $40 and one of the girls gave me a piece of construction paper and said be here on this date…I thought to myself, ‘I just got scammed.’

“They just ruined it for a bunch of legitimate agencies out there because I’m not going to give to anyone who says they are with a fire department.”

Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said he knew of the women and that they were from the Lake Martin Search and Rescue team.

“The departments have an understanding where to go to ask for money,” Abbett said. “They weren’t doing anything illegal, just not very ethical.”

Young said the two men have been seen passing out different flyers, also seeking donations.

“One was seen wearing a KVFD T-shirt, but he’s not a member of the fire department,” Young said. “And I know some of the residents in the area gave them some money.”

Young said Kowaliga, like many other volunteer fire departments, hold fundraisers to keep their departments afloat.

But he warns residents to be cautious should they be approached at their front door by someone they don’t know.

“If they don’t have the proper identification and don’t identify a fire department you are covered by, then they are not legitimate,” Young added.

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