UPDATE: Dade Co. Sheriff's Office warns of new scam
UPDATE: A new scam is circulating in our area. This time in Dade County.
Scammers want you to send money to help a fire department made up of volunteers.
The catch? The fire department they claim to support doesn't exist.
People living in Wildwood received letters from the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance asking for donations. That organization is a legit entity, but where the money would go to, is not.
"They represent themselves as the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Fighters; we have no Wildwood Fire Department in the county of Dade," Chad Payne, with the Dade County Sheriff's Office, said.
The scenario is all too familiar. Mailers soliciting money from you. The cause sounds worthy, but do not be fooled.
"What the letter is, it presents itself as somebody who is actually a legitimate foundation called the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance," Payne explained. "They present themselves as that entity, but they give a different PO box then what the actual association has on its website."
The money you dish out will go straight into someone's pocket. One Dade County resident made that mistake and sent $2,000 to the bogus PO box.
"They sent that money that will probably never been seen," Payne said. "They thought they were donating it to the Wildwood Area Fire Department or the North Dade Fire Department. That money will never be seen by them."
Similar types of letters have been sent to unsuspecting people nationwide. Besides the wrong PO box, there are grammatical errors in the letter and unnecessary postage stamps.
The scam has just hit Dade County within the last few days. Payne isn't sure how many people sent money to the scammers. He hopes this serves as a warning.
"We don't want anyone to fall victim to a scam," Payne added. "Like I said, if you want to donate to a local fire department, donate to your local fire department. Don't send it out to be distributed nationwide."
If you ever receive a phone call or letter from someone asking for donations, the best thing to do is call the Dade County Sheriff's Office at (706) 657-3233. They will help you determine if the request is legit or a scam.