Dunwoody Police Arrest Man in Charity Scam
ATLANTA—Dunwoody police arrested and charged Brian Carl Trailkill, age 29, of Tucker, Georgia with Theft by Deception on Wednesday, August 5, 2009.
The Dunwoody Police Department and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office opened an investigation after a concerned citizen filed a complaint. The investigation revealed Mr. Trailkill was soliciting donations of as much as $200 from Dunwoody residents and business owners for the “Dunwoody Firefighters Burn Fund” or the “DeKalb Firefighters Burn Fund.” The funds were allegedly going to be used to send children to special burn camps. Neither charitable organization exists.
The initial investigation revealed that five persons agreed to donate money to Mr. Trailkill, who was using the name "Brian Johnson." If you have received a call from this individual and have donated money, please contact Sgt. Gary Cortellino at (678) 382-6908 or the Georgia Secretary of State Securities Division at (404) 656-3920.
Secretary of State Karen Handel recommends Georgians adhere to the following tips when considering donating to a charity:
- It is important to research charities before you contribute. The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, other expenses and the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.
- A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau (give.org) and GuideStar (guidestar.org) provide detailed information about nonprofit organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.
- In addition, many charities must register with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. You can research charities at the Secretary of State's website (sos.georgia.gov/securities).
- Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask the caller to put the request in writing and provide complete information about the charitable program. Also, ask if the caller is a volunteer or a paid solicitor.
- Never give your credit card, debit card or bank account information to a telephone solicitor.
- If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax deductible status with the IRS. The IRS website (irs.gov/charities) has a searchable database of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax deductible.
- Many charitable solicitors ask for contributions of clothing, other household items and vehicles. IRS rules concerning valuations and receipts have changed significantly; be sure you understand and follow them completely or you may be denied a tax deduction for your contribution (irs.gov/charities/contributors).
- Not all organizations with charitable sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities, or try to make it appear that contributions will be used locally when they actually will not. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution.
- Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or office to pick up your contribution.
Anyone with more questions can call the Georgia Secretary of State’s Securities and Business Regulation Division, which oversees charities, at (404) 656-3920.
Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State's office offers important services to our citizens and our business community. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.