A Wichita nonprofit is warning people about a fake fundraiser circulating online.
Terry Atwater, the CEO of It Takes a Village, said he was informed about the fraudulent campaign on Monday.
“The initial response is anger because I know talking with other nonprofits who have had this happen as well, it hurts. It hurts all the way around and it hurts the end users, the end recipients,” said Atwater.
It Takes a Village is a Wichita transitional living program for teens in state foster care.
“We are providing that backdrop, that glimmer of hope sometimes that they can actually make it, to see some of our young folks get to the point where they can actually see success. That’s what we try to do is get them to that point where it is a reality and not just a dream,” Atwater said.
The nonprofit relies on donations to adequately house and care for the teens.
“Being able to raise donations is a lifeblood,” he said.
Atwater said it appeared someone was impersonating It Takes a Village on Facebook and soliciting funds for the organization without the group’s approval. As soon as he found out about the campaign, Atwater contacted authorities.
He also wrote on the organization’s Facebook page that it was not currently soliciting donations on Facebook.
Wichita police told KSN cases like this are not uncommon.
“Unfortunately, we do see these kind of things come through every once in awhile. We do see them. We do investigate the ones we can,” said Wichita Police Sergeant Santiago Hungria with the Financial Crimes Unit.
Police said donors need to do their research before they donate.
“Do your due diligence. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call. You can even call, like I said, the gofundme, Facebook. You can call or email them to see if they have had any complaints on these businesses or there’s been any kind of scams like that going on,” Sgt Hungria said.
Atwater said he considers himself lucky. He said his staff caught the fraudulent fundraiser before it collected any money. He is now focused on moving forward and helping more youth.
“We have nothing else to do but drive on. We want to show our kids that even with us, as adults, we have setbacks, but we still want to drive forward to our end goal,” he said.
An investigation into the fake fundraiser is underway.
Atwater said fundraising campaigns will go through the organization’s website until further notice.