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West Bend police warn about telemarketers seeking donations for “Police & Troopers”

WEST BEND -- The West Bend Police Department is warning residents about telemarketers seeking donations for "Americans for Police & Trooper Safety."

"Soliciting for the Military, the police, fallen soldiers," said Tom Pihringer.

Tom Pihringer is no stranger to telemarketers pushing for a donation.

"That's what I can't figure out; how they would get a cellphone number," said Pihringer.

For years, the 64-year-old has received calls from several organizations.

"It boils me up really bad," said Pihringer.

Police have a new telemarketing alert for people to keep in mind.

"I believe once a call was made in the area it was a sign that many more were going to be made," said Jackson Police Chief Jed Dolnick.

Jackson police recently posted to a message on social media warning residents of telemarketers seeking donations for police and state troopers.

In the Facebook post, officials say the treasurer, David Dierks, is associated with a number of other organizations that use the police name to raise funds. Dierks previously ran the Police Protective Fund, based in Texas, which was the subject of investigations by the IRS, FTC, and the attorneys general of Illinois and Missouri. These agencies estimated that Dierks kept 87-90% of the money that had been donated.

"Generally when telemarketers start calling, they hit a broad area," said Dolnick.

Officials say "Americans for Police & Trooper Safety" is not a charitable organization. It’s registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a “non-connected political action committee”, but there’s no record that it employs any registered lobbyists to advance its agenda.

"This organization claims that it will make an impact on legislation, however they do not employ any lobbyists. We don't know how that would be possible," Dolnick said.

The discovery prompted other nearby police departments to make similar posts filled with reminders.

The West Bend Facebook post says the following:

"Residents should carefully consider whether a donation is appropriate. Hang up if the caller pressures you for an immediate donation. Legitimate charities will give you time to research, and will agree to send an invoice instead of demanding payment on the phone.

"The only non-profit, charitable organizations that use the police name to raise money in this community that are authorized by the West Bend Police Department are:

"If anyone else calls claiming to be a charitable organization raising money for the West Bend Police Department or for area law enforcement, we strongly urge you to check that agency out thoroughly before donating any money. We also encourage you to call the West Bend Police Department and notify us of the potential fraud of any fundraisers that contact you."

Police in Jackson say before you donate, do you research and if a caller is pressuring you don't be afraid to hang up.

"If they're feeling pressured that's a bad sign," said Dolnick.

Dolnick isn't telling people to avoid donating to the group, but wants them to carefully consider.

"They should never hesitate to say no until they get more information," said Dolnick.