Scammers have targeted Santa Monica residents recently while posing as Santa Monica High School students soliciting donations.
The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District issued a warning to local residents last week and said there a ways to identify legitimate fundraising by local students.
“We have learned that young people posing as Samohi students are going door to door asking for donations or selling magazine subscriptions allegedly supporting the Samohi Regional Occupational Program (ROP),” said the statement sent by the district. “This message is to inform you that the Samohi ROP program is not currently conducting a magazine fundraiser or seeking donations door to door, and we would like to caution you about this scam.”
The message said student clubs and affiliated organizations do use magazine sales as a fundraiser but any Samohi student will have a photo identification available for proof. In addition local students are trained to provide information about their programs.
“People can also ask where they live and they should be able to recite a local address,” said SMMUSD Community & Public Relations Officer Gail Pinsker. “This has been asked and I’ve heard it caused some of these scammers to run away when they can’t answer questions about the school or their address.”
She said Samohi house principal, Isaac Burgess can also verify student fundraisers via email at email@example.com.
SMMUSD’s ROP program is a division of the district focused on vocational and technical training for high school students, out-of-school youth and adults. The program provides hands on education in several fields including but not limited to automotive technology, business management, digital design, marketing, photography, dance and film/video production. Students can also participate in work experience and internship programs through ROP.
Pinsker said anyone wanting to make a legitimate donation to ROP can do so by contacting Burgess.
Scams of this type have come through Santa Monica in the last couple of years, often at the start of the school year and again in the spring.
Pinsker said anyone contacted with a suspicious offer should contact the local police department.
Lieutenant Saul Rodriguez said residents can call the dispatch center directly if they receive a questionable call or solicitation and he said calls about suspicious solicitations are not limited to scams targeting schools.
“We do get those type of calls on a routine basis,” he said. “They should call the dispatch center immediately if they are suspicious. That’s what we’re here to do and we’ll investigate.”
SMPD dispatch can be reached at (310) 458-8491.