New scam targets New Berlin residents

Posted at 12:12 PM, May 25, 2016

NEW BERLIN -- The New Berlin Fire Department is warning the public to be on the lookout for a possible scam.

According to Deb Gillard, the fire department’s administrative services manager, a company going by the names Fire Safety Magnets, Firehouse Promotions and/or Firehouse Productions has solicited at least one donation on the fire department’s behalf without permission.

“Last Friday I received a call from a local business saying they were solicited to donate money,” Gillard said.

She said that business donated $400 to the company after being told the money would be used to sponsor the creation of fire safety magnets/white boards that would then be turned over to the New Berlin Fire Department, for free, so they could be handed out.

The business is currently choosing to remain anonymous.

Gillard said she received a phone call from the alleged scammers on Tuesday.

“Yesterday I was contacted by the company and asked to sign a distribution form for the safety magnets,” Gillard said.

According to Gillard, the form would allow Fire Safety Magnets to raise money on NBFD’s behalf.

“At that point, I asked them if they'd contacted any businesses in New Berlin for ads already and they indicated they did not,” Gillard said.

TODAY’S TMJ4 reached someone at Fire Safety Magnets by phone on Wednesday afternoon. The man said the company had not raised any money on behalf of the New Berlin Fire Department.

“You've got this thing totally messed up, we don't have anything to do with the New Berlin Fire Department,” he said.

“Since they didn't sign the form, we wouldn't call there,” he said. “That's why we send the form, to see if they want us to put this project together.”

The man did not deny accepting a $400 donation from a New Berlin area business, but claimed it was not solicited on behalf of the fire department.

“What I'm telling you is we don't have anything to do with the New Berlin area,” the man said. “What I'm saying is, what this person gave money for possibly was for a different area, not for the New Berlin Fire Department.”

Fire Chief Lloyd Bertram said he’s working to put the word out to the public to not donate to the company should they claim to be raising money on NBFD’s behalf.

But Bertram said the department is currently in the midst of its annual fundraising campaign for fire prevention activities and materials/equipment. So he said he’s worried all the confusion could hurt those efforts.

“Anytime businesses think there's fraud involved, obviously they're not going to be willing to donate,” Bertram said.

Bertram said New Berlin Police have been notified of the $400 donation and are investigating.