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Bush league: Scammers claim to be from real service organization

Nov. 10, 2010

A Milwaukee organization prepping for a fundraising gala that includes a visit from President George W. Bush today has had its name used by scam artists looking for quick cash.

Wauwatosa police arrested two people for aggressive panhandling last week who were pretending to represent Teen Challenge, a faith-based addiction recovery program. But there has been talk by people who have handed out cash that many more fake solicitors have been hitting up people in recent weeks.

Calls to officials from the real Teen Challenge International-Wisconsin were not immediately returned. A staff member said officials were busy setting up at the Frontier Airlines Center, but they were aware of the scams.

According to the Wauwatosa police report:

The first arrest happened outside The Home Depot at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 5. A 16-year-old Milwaukee boy had been asking shoppers for money inside and in the parking lots of businesses at 124th Street and Capitol Drive.

He had official-looking documents with the organization's logo on top and lines for signatures and donations. He had filled two sheets with donations between $1 and $10 each.

On Monday, a 25-year-old Milwaukee woman was found with those same documents and nearly $200 in her pants pockets. She said she made the money over a two-day period at Mayfair Mall.

Mall security had ejected her from Mayfair at least three times in the past month. This time, they wanted her arrested.

Both of the panhandlers said they worked for a man who gives them the papers and gives them a cut of the money they bring in.

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