Knowing that you serve the Austin Community, I thought you might want to know of a scam that’s going on.

I received a phone call on March 24 from a “Steve Burman,” requesting a $25 cash donation for an alleged Food Basket and Clothing Giveaway at Columbus Park on March 25. “Steve” was supposed to be a fireman calling on behalf of the Chicago Fire Department. He says he is located at Chicago & Lamon (not Lake & Parkside) but would not leave a phone number because he “would be out” when I called back. He said he would call me back instead.

Neither the Chicago Fire Department nor Columbus Park were familiar with this person or the event. The fire department says this type of scam happens every year and that they never solicit money through one-on-one contact. They advised me to call 911 if the person actually shows up for the cash. He never called back. Please advise your readers not to give cash donations before confirming the legitimacy of the solicitor.

By the way, I was approached several months ago outside the Walgreens near Laramie & Madison by a person who claimed to be representing the Austin Weekly and was collecting money for a child who died and the family allegedly did not have life insurance. The person claimed the story was in that week’s Austin Weekly but that was not true. That person didn’t get any money either.

Ken Woods
Circle Urban Ministries