By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fake solicitors have been using the name of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities to get donations.

Reports are coming in from across the metro of youth, along with a few adults, claiming to be associated with the club and asking people on the street for donations.

But that organization does not send out kids to fundraise.

“They were standing on the corner and there were several of them,” said victim Keith Relyea.

He says he didn’t think twice when he was asked to help youth looking for a way off the streets.

“And they had a folder with them and they talked about Boys and Girls Club, raising money for uniforms,” Relyea said.

What he didn’t know is that this type of solicitation is a scam.

“We never send our members and our children on the streets to ask people for money, never,” said Boys and Girls Club CEO Erin Carlin.

She says they do not know where the money raised by these young people is going, but it’s not going to the organization.

“They dress the part, they talk the part, they have the stuff with them,” Relyea said.

Victims say the solicitors look credible and their stories can bring you to tears.

“He looked very sincere, so I had a twenty and two ones, and I gave them the two ones,” Relyea said.

A board member approached by one of the fake solicitors took a picture of the scammers.

“They have a badge with our logo off the internet, poor quality, but it’s still a Boys and Girls Club logo, so they can look legitimate,” Carlin said. “But they are not legitimate, and they are stealing money from kids who really need the public support.”

Boys and Girls Club officials say it’s hard to catch fake solicitors mainly because they move their operation around from place to place.

The fake solicitors have been seen outside Kowalski’s markets, in the skyways, at the University of Minnesota and other locations in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Carlin is sharing this information so the community is not misled.

In reality, The Boys and Girls Club relies on the public for all of its funds. The group raises money through direct mail, they do not go door to door or telephone solicit.

Officials say it’s always best to give money directly to a group that you want to support.

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