By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An Eyewitness News Exclusive – Could an accused scam artist be targeting another neighborhood?
Just one night after we reported on an alleged donation scam in Northeast Philadelphia (See Related Story), residents in another local neighborhood are saying it is also happening to them.
One group, in particular, felt compelled to speak out.
When we met the Mt. Airy Track Club, the runners were out braving the elements, practicing on the sidewalk outside of Germantown High School. The club had been using the school’s track field that is until budget woes forced the school district to close the high school.
So in need of a new home, could this volunteer-run club use some help? Absolutely but on this night, their plea for the public was this: Do not donate to this club when solicited at home.
Teri Bizzle, club’s head coach explained, “I started getting emails recently and a detective did actually call me.”
Turns out, some “very personable” man described as a middle-aged black man in his 40s has been knocking on doors and scamming residents in Mt. Airy.
We caught Serena Williams when she came to pick up her two daughters from practice. Williams said the scam artist tried to victimize her husband and explained, “Saying that he was representing Mt. Airy Track Club and he asked for a donation and my husband immediately said, I don’t know you, what’s the coach’s name, he could not answer anything.”
By all accounts, the man is preying on the kindness of strangers, much like the man caught in the exclusive surveillance video we showed you on Tuesday night. The man seen in that video is also knocking on doors, allegedly asking for money for a sick daughter or a train fare. That was in Mayfair and back in Mt Airy, the proud coach says she remains focused on keeping the travel team competitive but wants to warn her giving community to beware of the scam artist.
“We have been in existence since 1975. We’re a not-for profit organization and we do hold fundraisers like pizza sales, candy, skating parties things like that or even bucket drives but the Mt. Airy Track Club does not solicit door to door and if anyone comes to your door, turn them away or call the police,” Bizzle said. You can learn more about the club here: http://www.tcteams.com/matc/
Meanwhile, Capt. John Fleming of the 14th Police District says while it is unknown if the same man is behind the scam spree, he does not rule anything out. He hopes residents will continue to stay vigilant and do not hesitate to call 911 to report any suspicious activity.