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The Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) is the collective community voice for addressing neighborhood issues such as zoning, security, beautification, traffic, metropolitan services, and environment.

SPNA members meet on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Senior Renaissance Center of Cohn Adult Learning Center at 4805 Park Avenue.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Possible fund-raising scam involving magazine sales

A neighbor has reported a possible scam involving teenagers selling magazines:
Have many neighbors been approached by teenagers going door to door allegedly selling magazines? We had some kids come to our door today a little before 1 p.m. (which is strange because they appeared to be high school age and not in school). We have twice purchased magazines because we felt bad for the kids who said they were working their way out of the projects and building self esteem.

We have never ever received a magazine, and so now are very skeptical about these salesmen. The kids today didn't even have any paper or clipboards with them. They were courteous after my husband said we weren't interested, but it makes me wonder if they're really doing something else like scoping out houses for possible burglary or something to that end. Just wondering if other neighbors have been approached. We live on the 4700 block of Utah Avenue.
It's hard to know for sure, but this may be a scam. There may well be teenagers doing legitimate school fund-raising in the neighborhood from time to time. Since this neighbor mentions having never received magazines despite past support, I thought this was worth mentioning. Please report any suspicious activity you witness to the police at (615) 862-8600.


  1. Anonymous8:44 PM

    The scenario: Claiming that they were between high school and college and practicing public speaking, two vibrant teenage women came to my door in Sylvan Park this evening. It was dusk--almost dark--and their knock was very friendly sounding.

    Their spiel: They said that they were competing in a contest against "the boys," only needed to earn 600 more points, and that all of the other people on my street had already participated. They needed to know my profession so that they could be inspired for career options in college. They also wanted to know if I had lived at my address last year... because if I did, then "the boys" probably came by then.

    They wanted me to look at some ragged brochures. When I didn't and asked them what they wanted from me, they became frustrated and told me that it would be easier if I just looked at the brochures. When I still refused, they said that they were part of a magazine drive to help charities--and hence, help them go to college through their success at public speaking.

    The supposed organization: When I asked them what the name of the organization was, they annoyedly mumbled "Make a difference." After somemore probing about the organization, they told me that they were staying in Goodletsville, were from out-of-state, and were going door-to-door in different neighborhoods to practice "making first impressions."

    The wrap-up: I told them that I would contribute to the program online. They retorted that the program was not online. When they opened up a small folder to show me some additional materials, I saw a wad of cash stuffed in the folder pocket (most likely from people that they had persuaded to make a donation to their "magazine drive").

    Bottom line: I declined their solicitation. They were disappointed but politely walked away.

    See this 2008 article by Nashville's Channel 4 on teenage magazine scams: http://www.wsmv.com/news/16105692/detail.html

  2. Anonymous8:25 PM

    I have been approached twice from young adults that claimed they were in a program to back to college and get a degree. As the previous comment they wanted to know what I did for a living and if I had a college degree. They kept telling me all these different people on my street that had contributed and asked if I knew them (sorry neighbors but learn your names so if they made up one I wouldn't have known). When I said I'm not interested in purchasing magazines they said I could give $20, $50, or what I would like to go towards purchasing magazines for rest homes. I said I would do that and when I came back to ask who I make the check out to they said they could only take cash. Hmm...With cash they are untraceable.

    They had their public speaking down but fooling me they didn't.

  3. Anonymous3:48 PM

    I live in Cherokee Crossing (off Westlawn) & have had several of these solicitors come to my door. The first time, I became skeptical once I saw they only had a ragged brochure & a check my "neighbor" had given them. I made an excuse & closed the door. The second time, at least a year later, I mistakenly opened the door while home alone. The heavy young man showed me the same ragged brochure & I told him I really didn't have time - he had caught me at a bad time. He got ANGRY & started cursing. I said "do I need to call the police on your?" & he said "go ahead, someone else has already called." He had stepped back from the door, but he was so aggitated he scared me & I slammed the door shut. Needless to say, I'll never open to door to a stranger again. I've seen someone in our neighborhood again in the last couple of months. My husband was home & we watched him. We got the feeling he was checking to see who's home during the day. Beware!

  4. Anonymous9:56 AM

    There was a feature story about this particular scam on The Today Show recently. Here is the link:

    Basically: Stay calm, get the dog out, and call the police.

  5. Thanks for sharing these experiences, everyone. It sounds like these incidents are on the rise, and that's not surprising giving the state of the economy. Keep your guard up, don't give to anyone who can only accept cash, and report suspicious activity to the police at (615) 862-8600. Let SPNA know at spna@sylvanpark.org, too.