If you live in the Killeen or Harker Heights area and have ever been approached by someone claiming to collect donations for a women’s shelter, you could be getting scammed.
One Harker Heights man almost gave his used van away to an alleged women’s shelter representative, but this organization doesn’t even exist in Central Texas.
Cladeto Olibrice says a man, claiming to be a pastor from One Love Ministries Inc., came to his house. He says the alleged pastor began asking for donations for their battered women’s shelter. Olibrice was willing to help.
“I have a van that we don’t use, and I told him I would give it to him in exchange for a Tax ID Voucher,” Olibrice says.
It was during this transaction that he felt something was off.
“First when he gave me the numbers, there were eight numbers instead of nine. When I told him about it, he pretty much put a zero in front of all the numbers that were already there,” Olibrice says.
Olibrice decided to double check the tax ID number he received from the man using TurboTax. In doing so, he discovered the number was fraudulent. He called the alleged pastor several times but got no response, but Olibrice had a plan.
“So I had to trick him. When I called back a lady answered. I said, ‘Everything checked out, so meet me at my house and I’ll sign it over.” When she came over, I called The Harker Heights Police Department,” Olibrice says.
He’s not alone in seeing or experiencing this type of solicitation. Many Killeen and Harker Heights area residents say they have been approached in parking lots by the same person. Community member says some solicitors would tell them they were from Temple or Austin area shelters.
“I can speak for our organization. We do not do that,” says Marlene Poehlmann, of the Our Lady of Angel Ministries Shelter in Temple.
Poehlmann says this would never happen.
“This is a very generous community, and this community is very caring. They call us with many donations throughout the year. So we’re blessed. We don’t need that. We don’t need to solicit,” Poehlmann says.
Other area shelters we spoke with also took the same stance.
In fear of being arrested, the women gave Olibrice’s back his van keys and an address to find the vehicle. He found his van at a nearby apartment complex. He says, he was lucky.
“Them using the ministry as a front gives you a false sense of security,” Olibrice says.
Harker Heights PD and Killeen PD say if this happens to you, or you see suspicious activity like this, be sure to call and file a report. According to both agencies, they haven’t received any reports about this scam.
For more on solicitation laws in the Killeen area, go to: https://library.municode.