If You Get This Message in the Mail, It's a Scam, Police Warn
Officials around the country are warning Americans against this deceptive practice.
Most mailboxes around the U.S. are filled with junk mail on a frustratingly regular basis. But while the random catalog you don't remember signing up for or the occasional unsolicited credit card application are annoying to receive, they're not usually harmful. On the other hand, authorities recently discovered that some people are receiving one message in the mail that could put them at risk. Read on to find out what officials are now warning Americans is a postal scam.
Police departments around the U.S. have been warning about various scams.
Officials across the country know that a seemingly small scam can do a large amount of damage, which is why they're always working to alert Americans about known cons. Back in May, police in Connecticut and North Carolina both cautioned residents about a spoofing scam that had people believing they were talking to real officers on the phone, when they were actually being targeted by con artists looking to scare victims into handing over money. The earlier this month, a department in Indiana warned residents about an identity deception scam that is targeting people through packages they've received in the mail but didn't order.
Now, officials have issued a new alert about a scam that manages to combine the dangers of fraudulent police involvement and unsolicited mail together.
Police are warning about a scam that could show up in your mail.
On July 15, the West Richland Police Department in Washington state posted on its official Facebook page to warn about a scam that targets people through the mail system. According to the department, some residents are receiving a flier from the "Police Officers Support Association" thanking them and encouraging them to send a check donation for a special law enforcement program.
"This one looks legit and asks for a small donation," West Richland officers wrote, adding that it is "considered to be a scam by other law encroachment groups within the U.S."
This scam has been going on for years.
West Richland police said that while people believe they're sending money to a charity supporting police officers, this scam actually sends money to a political action committee (PAC) with no ties to law enforcement in Washington state. This committee has been around since at least 2018 and targets people through various generic names such as the the National Emergency Responders Coalition, the National Coalition for Police & Troopers, and the Police Officers Support Association, according to CNN.
The news outlet also reported that this initiative has raked in millions of dollars, but none of the money raised goes to police departments. Instead, the donations are sent to Law Enforcement for a Safer American, a PAC that "has ties to a controversial union and spends the majority of its money on its own operating costs," CNN said. As of June 2020, data filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that the PAC had received nearly $10 million in donations, but only 2 percent went toward political means—mainly as ads for Donald Trump's reelection campaign—and the rest to firms helping it solicit donations.
Officials say you should report it if you're contacted by this group.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that simply having the word "police" in an organization's name doesn't mean that police are members of that group. Several police departments across the U.S. have issued scam alerts about the Police Officers Support Association and warned residents not to send money.
"We warn against them because they come off as supportive of the Greenfield Police Department, or the 'local' police, and yet they do not do anything for us," Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. from Greenfield, Massachusetts, told CNN. "These tend to be monies for their own agendas, and not based on the locals. I feel they abuse their use of the name to maybe convey a false sense to the community about who they are and what they really do with the money."
Some officials are even asking residents to report contact from this group. The West Richland Police Department said that "if you suspect you are a victim" of being targeted to send money to this PAC, you are "encouraged to contact" the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) about it. "This allows the FBI to conduct more sweeping nationwide investigations," officials said.