For years, parents have been warning their children not to go door to door selling things unless they’re accompanied by an adult. They worried that some adult might take advantage of them.
Now, there’s a new twist. Adults need to watch out for the children who are selling to them. An alert put out to local neighborhood associations recently states that, “There are groups of people, some as young as 13 to 14 years old, who are conducting a scam in our area, trying to sell magazine subscriptions with the pitch that by getting a subscription, you are supporting Little League. This is absolutely false and the operation is under investigation by the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Please be aware that the scam artists portray themselves as fund-raisers for Little League by asking for donations with paperwork that looks very official and professional, under the umbrella title of ‘Ultimate Power Sales.’
“If you or a neighbor has been approached by someone going door-to-door, trying to sell magazines for 'Little League,’ please contact Fairfax County Officer Greg Kottemann at the Mount Vernon Police Substation.”
Kottemann’s plea for the public’s assistance has already resulted in two arrests, and he has sent out an email stating: “We have made charges against at least two of the perpetrators in this case, but I do not think one charge will do it. They will continue to hit, and leave the area never to return to court. Some of the individuals are offering other types of services in certain cases.
“Please … I implore everyone again, not to make a donation. I have seen these receipts and they do look professional, but we do not know where this money is going. These people also do not have a license to do this type of activity.
“Please pass along this message to your neighbors and friends so that we can keep charging these individuals where we find them.
“I do not believe this group will go away without convincing … as they are really getting a lot of money from our community.”
KOTTEMANN LATER SAID, “These people are very practiced, on the fringe of legitimacy. They are very hard to track down.”
He said that some receipts showed that the proceeds were going to the National Children’s Center; but when Kottemann called the center they said that they were not affiliated with this soliciting group.
“I don’t think this is the first time,” Kottemann said. “They disarm people by using neighbor’s name — or by using a local intersection, i.e. ‘I live down by Potomac and Priscilla Lane.’ They hit at dinner and lunch time — get you when you’re down, not paying attention. Make you think they’re doing it for a legitimate purpose.”
The person who was arrested was charged with soliciting without a license. This was before the police had additional information and Kottemann said that future charges could also include misrepresentation while soliciting and obtaining money under false pretenses.
Kottemann said that he doesn’t know if the solicitors are actually juveniles — they may just look young. The person arrested was an adult.
“The biggest thing I try to get out to people unless you know the person and know the student goes to a certain school, don’t buy anything at the door or donate at the door. If you want to donate, seek them out and ask where you can call to donate,” Kottemann said.
“It can’t be trusted. If anybody comes to the door, they have to have a license, even charitable groups. If you have somebody come to your door and they don’t have license, call the non-emergency number.”
Kottemann said that there has been no activity in the past few days, so they may have left the area, but it is possible that they may come back. Another group has been involved in a driveway paving scam.
RON AND ANN GREENLEESE said that they, too, were solicited by a young woman. She was Caucasian in appearance, about 14-17, sporting a pink baseball cap with a letter B on it, wearing a pink jacket with a black shell under it.
“She was soliciting for a softball team,” said Ann Greenleese. “She had no soliciting credentials and wouldn't give her address, after claiming she lived ‘around the corner near Priscilla and Potomac.’ She wouldn't give her exact address because ‘my dad is an FBI agent and told me under no circumstances should I do that.’ She is equipped with a cell phone which she used upon the termination of our discussion. She was last seen walking up Potomac Lane near the pool area. We feel she may have been picked up by someone who is also is in on the ruse.”
Greenleese said that they reported the incident to the police at the 703-691-2131 number.
Concerns about this affecting the reputation of the Alexandria Potomac Little League has prompted members to send a notice out to all parents, guardians and supporters of Alexandria Potomac Little League.
It states: “Your assistance might help break the case in making arrest in this ongoing scam and protect the good name of Alexandria Potomac Little League throughout our community.”
They also list the information on their Web site, www.eteamz.com/apll.