CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Whistleblower 9 Investigation has uncovered what appear to be deceptive and predatory fundraising practices by the Republican National Committee.
A federal investigation has now been launched by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Thousands of letters have been mailed out across the country effectively demanding money from unknowing recipients.
Levonne Sharer, 78, of Marshville, North Carolina, was among those targeted.
She says her heart starting pounding and she panicked when she looked at an envelope in the mail with large red writing that read: "NOTICE OF DELINQUENCY"
"As I read it, I couldn't believe my eyes," Sharer said.
The envelope gives the impression the letter is from the government. The return address simply says:
OFFICE OF RECORDS
NORTH CAROLINA AREA ASSESSMENT
IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED
The letter inside is demanding, with phrases like "we need you to come forward today" and we have "contacted you multiple times" and "we have not heard back from you and time is running out."
At the bottom of the letter, there's a payment stub asking for upwards of $500 with a bright red circle around the words "PAST DUE."
Sharer is not delinquent and she doesn't owe anyone money.
The whole thing is an elaborate political fundraising letter sent by the Republican National Committee.
"It's not fair. It's just not right. I think they're taking advantage of people who might not know otherwise," a frustrated Sharer explained.
Sharer considers herself to be a conservative but is angry the Republican National Committee would try to trick people into sending money.
"They think they can frighten people and intimidate people and those checks will come pouring in," Sharer said.
Whistleblower 9's Paul Boyd went searching for answers and found a federal law that says it's "illegal to mail a solicitation in the form of an invoice."
Behind the scenes video at Channel 9 Eyewitness News!#Whistleblower9Posted by WSOC's Paul Boyd on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Then he asked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to review the letters.
An official confirmed Wednesday that the agency has just launched an investigation and released a statement saying "we are diligently investigating this matter."
The RNC says it raised more than $11 million last month alone.
Boyd reached out repeatedly to the Republican National Committee asking for an explanation. Its leaders declined to comment.
Whistleblower 9 will continue to follow this story.
If you have received predatory political letters in the mail, please share your story at Paul Boyd's WSOC Facebook page.
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