Northwood High School’s athletics directors warned Thursday that scammers are using the school’s name to bilk Chatham County businesses out of potentially thousands of dollars.
It’s not the first time Northwood athletic directors Cameron Vernon and Jason Amy have gotten the call about this kind of scam.
Sometimes, they learn about it when a curious business calls to check it out, Vernon said. Other times, they don’t realize it’s happening until a box of water bottles, pocket calendars or T-shirts bearing the Northwood Athletics logo is delivered.
They heard about it Wednesday night from a Pittsboro automotive business, Vernon said.
The business reported a man named “John” had called, claiming he was the Northwood athletics director. The caller said he was looking for businesses to sponsor calendars and T-shirts, Vernon said.
“Luckily, he called us and we got with our local Chatham County business bureau, and they tweeted it out, just to let everyone know what’s going on,” he said.
He also shared the information with Pittsboro Police Chief Percy Crutchfield, Vernon said. Crutchfield was not available for comment Thursday.
Chatham County Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Copeland said they have not heard about scams at Northwood or other high schools. It’s not clear what can be done to stop the scammers, but Copeland urged businesses to ask questions before agreeing to donate over the phone.
They’ve traced previous callers to companies in Texas and Maryland, Vernon said, and when they looked them up online, they found the companies had “F” ratings from the Better Business Bureau and numerous reports about being involved in scams.
“They’re not legit, but people are still giving to them,” he said.
The companies appear to be using online athletic schedules and information to print the merchandise for a low cost and pocketing the profits, Vernon said. They’ve offered in the past to let affected businesses have the merchandise, but most of the time, the businesses just tell them to keep it, he said.
“They think it’s going to a good cause, and we do have a business sponsors program here,” Vernon said.
“A hundred percent of the money goes to our student athletes to get them equipment and to help with facilities and things like that, and that’s what they think they’re giving to, but in reality, it’s going to a business states away,” he said.
Vernon urged local businesses who want to support Northwood Athletics teams to get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Amy at email@example.com.
“They should be hearing from us, not from somebody else,” he said.