Phone Scam, Scam Alert

Beware of Phone Fundraising Scammers Who Claim to Represent Fire Fighters

The state’s two largest fire fighter organizations – the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association – today are issuing a warning to Arizona residents: Beware of scammer telephone solicitors who claim they’re affiliated with fire fighters groups and claim to be raising money to help burn victims.

The phone scammers, who say they represent “the Association for Fire Fighters and Paramedics,” have no official affiliation with any Arizona fire fighters organizations and have been named among the worst charities in America by a number of media outlets and charity tracking organizations. Reports of these fundraising calls have been coming into the PFFA and the UPFFA for the past few days now.

The so-called Association for Fire Fighters and Paramedics, headquartered in Santa Ana, CA, has repeatedly been cited by Charity Navigator for spending less than 3 percent of donations on providing services, while spending the rest on salaries and overhead. In FY2013, Charity Navigator reports this scammer group reported raising more than $1.5 million, while less than $47,000 went to services.

In 2009, the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics was targeted by California Attorney General Jerry Brown for deceptive fundraising tactics, including using tens of thousands of dollars in donations to pay for out-of-town board meetings and a Caribbean cruise for board members and their families. The group paid a $100,000 settlement in 2010.

“These scammers have no shame,” said PFFA President Bryan Jeffries. “They even called my parents claiming to be affiliated with the fire fighters, saying they raise money for child burn victims. Let me be very clear – they have no affiliation with us and no one should give them a dime. We’re very proud of the charity work we do in this state – work that channels every donated dollar into services with no overhead. To take 97 percent of donations and spend it on overhead and perks is obscene.”

Steve Beuerlein, president of the UPFFA Local 493, said no Arizona fire fighter groups use phone solicitors. “If you’re getting a phone call from someone asking you for money on behalf of the fire fighters, please don’t give them anything. Our Local 493 charities raise and donate more than $1 million annually throughout the community and we never use the phone to raise a penny. Everyone needs to know what a sham this is. These scammers need to be stopped cold.”


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