Three men were arrested in Santa Monica after falsely soliciting for charitable donations with false documentation in the Third Street Promenade area. 56-year-old Rodney Muhammad of Compton, 53-year-old Derek Haskins of Los Angeles, and 53-year-old Jerry White of Santa Monica claimed to represent charities like the AIDS Health Foundation and Second Chance Ministry and are now facing a long sheet of charges after attracting a joint investigation from the Santa Monica Police Department and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit.
The three suspects were arraigned in the Los Angeles County Superior Court LAX Division on November 28th where they were all officially charged with theft by false pretenses, identity theft, false advertising, forgery of a government seal, and aggressive panhandling. A pretrial conference has been set for January 8th, 2013.
In a Santa Monica Police Department press release, authorities warned the public against similar scams.
“Consumers should take the time to research any charity before making a donation,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “Don’t make a donation on the street without first calling the organization and verifying that the solicitor is legitimate. You should also check online to make sure the organization itself is legit.”
Police also advised the public to ask solicitors what amount of their donation goes to the actual cause, information that they are legally obliged to divulge. “Copycat” scams were also highlighted, as many solicitors create false charities that closely resemble legitimate organizations.
This investigation is ongoing and any consumers who have given money to these individuals or have additional information should contact the City Attorney’s Consumer Affairs Specialist Paula Rockenstein at (310) 458-8364 or Santa Monica Police Detective Robert D’Andrea at (310) 458-2201 ext. 6679.
Santa Monica Mirror: Santa Monica Police Arrest Three Men In charity Scam On Third Street Promenade
CBS Los Angeles: Salvation Army Warns Donors After Scammers Arrested In Santa Monica