Scam artists use childhood cancer to bilk residents |

Scam artists use childhood cancer to bilk residents

Con artists hit at least one Carson City neighborhood earlier this month, preying on residents with a variation of the old magazine sales scam.

Lisa Helget of Carson City said she contributed $55 to buy a package of books for children she was told are being treated for cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno.

The young woman selling the books told Helget the contribution would provide reading material for 10 kids in the cancer unit. But after the check was cashed, Helget said something didn’t look kosher. First, the endorsement wasn’t made by a charitable organization – it was an illegible signature.

She said officials at St. Mary’s confirmed she had been victimized.

“The staff in our foundation, oncology, pediatrics and hospice departments have not heard of nor agreed to lend the Saint Mary’s name to any of the activities you described,” Gary Aldax, director of community benefit for the hospital, told Helget in an e-mail responding to her request for information.

Helget said she is less upset about the $55 than the method the crooks used.

“To use childhood cancer as your scam sickens me,” she said.

She said she was far from the only victim of the young woman who identified herself as “Amber G.”

“When she opened her portfolio, she had some serious cash and a lot of checks in there,” she said. “There are a lot of people getting taken by this.”

“It’s a variation on the magazine sales,” said John McGlamery, senior deputy attorney general with the state’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs.

He said unfortunately, these types of operations – often staffed by innocent-looking teens – move on to other cities very quickly.

“Chances are they’re long gone,” he said.

McGlamery said anyone approached by someone soliciting door to door should be very wary.

“Anybody going door to door has to have a license,” he said.

If they can’t or won’t show a license, he said call the sheriff’s department immediately and don’t get taken in.

McGlamery said he has even had scammers come to his home but, when that happens, they get busted because he holds them there for police.