Imposter bell ringers diverting Salvation Army donations


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The ringing of bells near the Salvation Army red kettles is a familiar sound around the holidays.

However, the Salvation Army said some people holding those bells may not be who they say they are.

 “It makes me sad, I guess you can say, because you're taking away from those who really, really need it the most,” said Maj. Bobby Lancaster with the Salvation Army.

Lancaster said some people are posing as bell-ringers and taking your money.

Not all shoppers were fooled.

Concerned shoppers called the Salvation Army and reported at least two suspicious bell ringers this week.

"It's frustrating but it's not surprising at all,” said shopper Brian Zimmer.

Zimmer said he's not shocked to hear of the impersonators.

"Well, that badge is easy to forge. I didn't look at his credentials. I didn't ask him for anything,” he said.

The fake bell ringers have been spotted, where many of people shop, including outside Wal-mart on Callabridge Court, Compare Foods on North Tryon Street and near Sam’s Club on J.W. Clay Boulevard.

The Salvation Army said in each case, the imposter was taking money with his hand, something a volunteer wouldn’t do.

The kettle drum was also not locked.

The charity said volunteers will have marked aprons, identification badges, and a drum that's always locked.

Lancaster said he has a message for those impersonators.

"If you need that kind of help, you need to come and see us, and we'll help you also. Don't take from us, where we can't help others,” Lancaster said.