Baltimore, MD - Dec. 3, 2020 - Before answering your door to meshulachim, read on.
There are three Meshulachim who have been caught orchestrating a successful scam on the members our community. Multiple anonymous sources have spoken to BJL and relayed the following shocking story:
The meshulachim look learned and always make an effort to say d'vrei Torah in order to rein in their prey. They make an effort as well to make sure to be seen davening at neitz at well known shuls in the area. As to their approach:
1) The meshulachim come to homes one after another. Each one has either no certificate, or a mocked up "certificate of authenticity" from E'Y, not an Agudas Yisrael official laminated certificate.
2) When the meshulach is let in to the home, he begins saying a d'var Torah and makes conversation. After receiving the donation, the meshulach proceeds to ask for more. He then shows a photocopy of a check that was supposedly from a year ago, with a large amount, claiming they gave more last year. Their target then matches that amount from "last year" because he figures there was a reason he gave so much last time, and repeats it.
These meshulachim have come to the same homes, multiple times within a few short months, claiming to be someone else from the year before.
Photoshopping checks to show a large amount, and doctoring the copy to show a completely different date from the year before.
The success of their scam is a direct result of their faces being shielded by masks. They are not easily identified when they knock once a month claiming to have collected $750 from the year before. The very busy and charitable community member then dubs this check as accurate, and proceeds to match the check from last time.
One anonymous source started getting weary after a meshulach walked to his driver's car to retrieve a photo-copy of the "check from the year before". He quickly identified the car from just a month earlier, however the check in the photocopy said otherwise. The confusion intensified when the copy of the check stated it was given in 2019, and the target did not remember giving this amount at that time. He then took the photocopy and examined it closely to notice that the date and amount were both in a different person's handwriting.
This same thing repeated itself yesterday, with the same driver, and the same story, the same scam.
The car is driven by a Russian man and his tags are from NYC. The masked meshulachim are frequents at local shuls, and are treated with free food from various kosher venues. They have been identified in the community Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. The organizational name that was used this time around in the scam was "SAR SHALOM".
This has caused a lot of uncertainty surrounding the validity of certificates because they can easily be photoshopped and doctored. It is more important than ever to be vigilant to whom you give tzedaka, and not be fooled by those hiding behind a mask.
Photo of the 3 purported to be Meshulachim scammers