Bell-ringer impersonator takes cash outside store

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | 11:53 a.m. CST; updated 12:15 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 14, 2011

*An earlier version of this article misspelled Salvation Army Regional Coordinator Major Kendall Mathews' name.

COLUMBIA — A man impersonating a Salvation Army bell ringer took donations from shoppers Tuesday afternoon outside the Old Navy store.

The man appeared to be homeless and was not wearing a Salvation Army apron or button, according to Salvation Army Regional Coordinator Major Kendall Mathews*.

The man collected money in his hands instead of in the bucket, which is a sign it was a scam, Mathews said.

There was no volunteer scheduled to work at that time at the store, which is in the Shoppes at Stadium shopping center. Old Navy customers told the store managers about the man.

The man left the scene, and the police department doesn't know where he is now, Mathews said. The amount of money he took is unknown.

“I call it, 'poor stealing from the poor'," Mathews said. "That’s messed up. The homeless need to know that they need to come to us.” 

Mathews advises people to immediately tell a store manager and then call the Salvation Army if they encounter a suspicious-looking person at a Salvation Army donation point.

“The community is our neighborhood kettle watch,” he said.

Mathews said there aren't enough volunteers to cover all the different kettle locations. The Salvation Army always tries to have volunteers at Walmart, Schnucks and Hy-Vee stores around Columbia, but there aren't enough volunteers to work all the available shifts at other kettle locations.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Sally Willis December 14, 2011 | 3:22 p.m.

Are you kidding Mr. Matthews it doesn't sound like he misrepresented himself to be a salvation army panhandler sounds like he was just looking for some spare change! Did he step on your toes? Is that only your racket? God forbid the poor the poor ask fro a little charity during the holiday season! What would the salvation army press charges on a homeless man for doing something you have people do day after day or would you just require he turn over the proceeds???

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 14, 2011 | 4:10 p.m.

Your way off base on this one. 'nuff said...

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders December 14, 2011 | 5:37 p.m.

Other than eliminating the inefficiency of the middle-man, I can't see how he is any different from the rest of the official bell ringers. Besides, I've never understood how inducing guilt in people for fear of not appearing charitable can be considered a charitable activity. But then again, I don't think there's anything positive to be achieved by attempting to embarrass people in the first place.

Charity can only come from the human heart, and as such, is a wholly voluntary activity. Any attempt to leverage it (regardless of intent), destroys the premise that it is a gift of love. I believe charities would be far better served if they did not resort to such tactics.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 15, 2011 | 11:59 a.m.

Are you guys serious?

Fraud does not mean anything to you?

Should I go door to door collecting money for Obama and then use it for my own stimulus?

Stimulus is stimulus...

Let me just say that your donations to official bell ringers will not be spent on liquor or smokes.

If you feel like someone is trying to embarrass you in to giving by ringing a bell, then it might be you. Charities can indeed raise more money and do greater things if they raise awareness about themselves and their operations.

Merry Christmas and thanks to all the others that volunteer or have volunteered to ring!

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 15, 2011 | 12:44 p.m.

So according to Sally a person can stand next to a kettle and hold his hand out asking for money and telling them the kettle is full and it is ok as long as he truly needs it.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis December 19, 2011 | 1:25 p.m.

Not sure if you have ever noticed but when the volunteer is not there neither is the bucket... So what this man was standing next to a store looking like a homeless man, collecting money in his hands and he did something wrong??? Nuff Said!

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 19, 2011 | 2:01 p.m.

The buckets are left at certain stores or areas even when the bell ringer is not there. Like this instance it was reported that the man was standing in front of the bucket that was up against the wall and he simply told people that the bucket was full all the while ringing a bell.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis December 19, 2011 | 3:34 p.m.

@ Corey I have read this artical again and I don't see that information anywhere! So I'm not sure where you're getting that!

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.