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Greenville police warning of "Police Protective Fund" scam

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Protect and serve. Greenville police have a warning.

They say telemarketers are using their name to take advantage of you.  The charity in question has been around more than a decade but as 9 on your side found out it’s not exactly what it claims to be.

"It's not something that we're associated with. It has nothing to do with the Greenville police department and we do not endorse it,” said Sgt. Joe Friday with the Greenville Police Department.

It’s called the “Police Protective Fund.” They claim to collect money for families of fallen officers. But so far 48 complaints have come into the North Carolina Attorney General office about the non-profit group.

"We've been receiving calls here in Greenville about them and you do a little research and you find that they're one of the worst-rated charities in the nation,” said Friday.

The Police Protective Fund is a legitimate charity. Tax filings show the non-profit raked in $5.9 million in donations last year but only gave away $37,000 in death benefits.

"This charity, in my opinion, plays upon your emotions, your sense of citizenship, your sense of civic duty....but the reality is they're just out to get money,” said Friday.

Most of the money raised goes to fundraising expenses and the staff’s 6-figure salaries.

"’Charity Navigator’ gave them an overall rating of 14 out of a possible 70 with zero stars so if that was a restaurant you certainly wouldn't want to eat there,” said Friday.

Through our research, “9 on your side” found at least four states have taken action against the group. A 2010 investigation by the “Tampa Bay Times” found telemarketers for the fund even went as far as pretending they were police officers to raise money.  Contact information wasn't’t available on the non-profit’s website but we were able to track down a Charlotte-based number through online forums and got an automated response asking for donations.

If you continue to get calls from the group, report them to the Attorney General’s office. They tell us they’ve been successful in putting a stop to some of the calls and have passed along some helpful tips.

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