Businesses and consumers need to be aware of a possible scam in Liberty County regarding the sale of sports towels, supposedly to raise money for local high schools.
Perry Neely, owner of Neely Ceramic Tile, said his company almost fell prey to the scam when he received a call a few days ago.
Neely said the caller sounded like a young man who merely identified himself as Brandon.
"Brandon" asked Neely if he would be interested in having his company logo placed on rally towels for the Bradwell Institute football team.
The caller said the cost to imprint the logo would be $400. Neely said he wasn’t suspicious at the time, but told the caller his children go to Liberty County High School so he would have to consider the offer. The next day the male called Neely again, asking him if he had reconsidered and even negotiated $100 off the price. Neely told him no.
After he was turned down, "Brandon" simply hung up on Neely, which prompted a response.
"I called the school because I was upset that he just hung up on me," Neely said. "I didn’t think anything was going on until the school told me they were not selling towels."
The phone call alerted school administrators and athletic director Jim Walsh. Walsh returned Neely’s call and later that day, Bradwell Institute principal Dr. Vicki Albritton called to speak with Neely. The administration collected the information and turned it over to school resource officer Damien Butler, who filed an official report.
Neely said the call came from an unknown or restricted number and the voice was that of a male in his teens or early 20s.
Albritton said the public should be aware that any solicitations for school athletics and booster clubs are done in person, never over the phone. And they do not go door-to-door.
"Our boosters, volunteers and students, who are authorized to fundraise for a sport, would visit area businesses only and they would carry a school letter with an embossed school letterhead with them," she said. "The names of all the school’s administrators, athletic director and school resource officer would be on the letter."
Albritton added that if it was a student doing the solicitation they should have a current student ID with them and would normally be closely associated with the sport seeking funding.
For example a cheerleader or football player would sell items for the football team.
The entire process would also be pre-approved by the Liberty County School Board.
The school resource officer is investigating the matter. Violators are subject to criminal charges and fines.
Neely said he was fortunate but wanted to warn others.
"I called the school to complain, I thought the kid was rude for hanging up on me," Neely said. "But I called the paper afterwards because if they are not careful someone out there might get scammed out of money."