Possible ‘Cancer Scam’ Soliciting Donations on Busy Hudson Valley Roads
An organized group of adults have been spotted at busy Hudson Valley intersections asking for donations to help a young girl with cancer. However many have doubts that the girl actually exists.
Local residents have been reporting the suspicious fundraiser over the past week after being approached to donate money to help a young girl named "Clara." I came across the group myself on Friday afternoon at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 9D in the Town of Poughkeepsie.
Men and women dressed in reflective vests were holding signs that read
Clara is 7 years
When I asked one of the people soliciting for donations for more information about Clara he became nervous and said she was a young girl. I asked if she lived locally and he said no, but she had family that lived here. After pressing him further for more information about where in the Hudson Valley her family lived, he said that they were actually down in New Jersey.
I then asked him why he was collecting money here in Poughkeepsie and he became angry, telling me that they didn't want to collect the money where the family lived. The man then got upset that I was asking questions and wanted to know why I was taking pictures. I explained that he was standing in a public roadway and I didn't need permission to take photos, that's when he stormed off.
If someone was actually collecting money for a girl with cancer, I would assume that they would have more details about the young girls plight and would be willing to share it with anyone who asked. The man's reaction left me extremely suspicious about the legitimacy of the fundraiser.
Unfortunately, this wouldn't be the first time scammers have targeted this area. A year ago, a man was spotted pretending to play the violin at various parking lots throughout the region. That was revealed to be a scam by authorities.
Upon further investigation into the roadside charity drive, I found several stories about "cancer scams" using the same story and similar signs to collect money in other states. A thread on Reddit claims that a group was conducting the exact same roadside fundraiser in Pennsylvania.
I noticed several people collecting donations for a girl named 'Clara', who, according to the signs they held, has a type of cancerous Teratoma. Now, I normally would give freely to such a cause, but I recognized one of the people collecting the donations ... I saw that same person a few months ago with a child at her hip along with a man holding up a sign asking for money. The kid seemed to be asleep.
Others chimed in saying that they, too, had seen the same group of people who were extremely "aggressive" and "belligerent" in their demands for donations. Many said they believed it was a scam.
In Kansas, a group with identical vests and similar-looking signs were identified by a local news organization for also possibly scamming residents. The same group was again reportedly spotted in South Carolina, where police say they presented them with a fake business license.
Hudson Valley residents have taken to social media to share their suspicions about the group on Route 9. Some claim that they have received conflicting stories from those collecting money as to where the family lives and details about the young girl's disease.
We reached out to Town of Poughkeepsie police last week to find out if they have received complaints about the fundraiser and the legality of soliciting on the medians on Route 9. They have not responded to our inquiry.
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