When you see a donation jar in a business or restaurant that appears to be raising funds for a sick child, it can be hard to resist dropping in a dollar or some change. Especially if the jar appears legitimate.
But savvy scammers are creating fake jars to prey on the goodwill of others.
One such jar sits near the cash register at Taquerias Arandinas in North Austin. The sign on the jar shows a picture of a sick child in the hospital and says the donations inside are for the Rising Angels Foundation. It even has an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and contact information for the alleged nonprofit organization.
“They’re collecting at least $150 to $200 every time they come,” said the restaurant’s owner Paul Castillo. He said the same man always comes to pick up the jar and collects about $400 a month. The man is identified on the jar as Steve Brooks.
But something doesn’t add up.
The EIN on the jar isn’t valid with the IRS. KVUE checked the address on the Rising Angels website – 414 South General McMullen – and it shows up in a San Antonio strip mall. There is no indication on the map that Rising Angels non-profit is located there.
Also, the men listed as contacts on the jar have several felonies including robbery, armed robbery, theft and assault.
When KVUE’s Amber Downing called the number listed on the jar, the man who answered the phone immediately asked what Anthony and Steve, the employees listed on the jar, had done wrong.
KVUE also looked into the nonprofit’s history. Rising Angels was once a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The problem is that the organization’s nonprofit status was terminated almost two years ago.
Castillo is now concerned that the money being collected in his restaurant isn’t helping the person he believed it was helping.
“If all the information that you see here is incorrect, then he’s probably doing something illegal,” Castillo said.
Always be on the lookout for similar donation jars. Before you donate, do some research or let us do it for you. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.