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SCAM!

Firefighters say don't get 'burned' when donating

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Always use caution when someone calls you looking for money, no matter what organization they claim to represent. (Source: 3TV) Always use caution when someone calls you looking for money, no matter what organization they claim to represent. (Source: 3TV)
Gregory Huss decided to do some research after receiving a call from somebody soliciting donations for firefighters and paramedics. (Source: 3TV) Gregory Huss decided to do some research after receiving a call from somebody soliciting donations for firefighters and paramedics. (Source: 3TV)
"It's disheartening to have these organizations come and use our name for the sake of illicit purposes and just profit for themselves," said P.J. Dean of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association. (Source: 3TV) "It's disheartening to have these organizations come and use our name for the sake of illicit purposes and just profit for themselves," said P.J. Dean of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association. (Source: 3TV)
United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association is a legitimate organization, but it does not call people to ask for donations. (Source: 3TV) United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association is a legitimate organization, but it does not call people to ask for donations. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Valley firefighters have a warning for you tonight, but it has nothing to do with your physical safety. Rather, it deals with the safety of your wallet.

We all know firefighting is a dangerous job and a lot of people feel the need to give back to firefighters by donating to a number of different organizations. That in mind, Valley firefighters say you have to be careful when it comes to whom you give your money.

Gregory Huss says he likes to give back so when he got a phone call from a person claiming to represent the "Association for Firefighters and Paramedics" asking him if he would donate, his heart said, "Of course." 

"So I said sure, and he asked how much I could afford," Huss explained. "I said $35. He said fine, 'I'll send you a voucher and you can send back my check."

Huss gave the caller his full name and address but refused to give them money over the phone. Huss went on to explained that after he hung up, something didn't feel right about that phone call. He started looking into it.
 
"Something told me to just check it out," he said. "So, I went on the Internet and typed in 'scamming' for firefighters and paramedics."

Huss didn't like what he found, so he contacted 3 On Your Side. 
 
We discovered there is actually an organization called the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics, but it did not respond to 3 On Your Side's inquiries.

Valley firefighters, however, were more than happy to talk to us.

"It's disheartening to have these organizations come and use our name for the sake of illicit purposes and just profit for themselves," said P.J. Dean of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association.

"Upon research, we discovered that they're not a legit charitable organization," he said. "They are indeed a nonprofit, but the two are definitely different."

So, what does that mean and where does all that money go? 

"1 or 2 percent of the money is the only amount of money that's actually put toward a cause," Dean said.

Charity Navigator is a watchdog organization for nonprofits and gives the California-based Association for Firefighters and Paramedics a measly 23.84 out of 100.
 
3 On Your Side also found that the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics was sued by the California Attorney General's Office back in 2009, claiming " ... 3 percent of approximately $10 million was spent on assistance to burn victims. No funds were used to assist firefighters and paramedics."

Huss said it's certainly an eye opener, and Valley firefighters say it should be.

"The important message we want to deliver is that there's no legitimate firefighter or police organization in the state of Arizona that will contact you by phone and solicit donations," Dean said.

Again, 3 On Your Side never did hear back from the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics.

Bottom line? Always use caution when someone calls you looking for money, no matter what organization they claim to represent.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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