I-Team 10 Follow Up: Phony fundraiser

Posted at: 09/18/2013 6:06 PM
Updated at: 09/18/2013 6:13 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

I-Team 10 received more emails from possible victims of a Gates man who police say collected donations, all in the name of a phony fundraiser. 
William Bryan Jr. is accused of collecting donations for a fake charity walk. In fact, several people claimed they gave Bryan money.
Police say, since I-Team's story aired Tuesday night, they've heard from no less than 150 people who say they gave money to William Bryan. Since we broadcasted the exclusive video of a man asking for donations at a local business for a fundraiser to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society, we started hearing from viewers countywide. From Greece to Henrietta, Irondequoit and Brockport, small business owners and employees tell I-Team 10 they gave money to Bryan.
Amanda Donofrio said, "An older gentleman walks in and tells a story about how his mom has MS and they're doing a walk for it."
Amanda Donofrio was working at LaFamiglia Restaurant in Greece a couple months ago when she says Bryan came in with an emotional pitch. She gave him five dollars.
Donofrio said, "It was very believable. They do walks like that all the time.”
Across town at Primo's Diner in the Sea Breeze neighborhood, Sue Viapiano says she got the same solicitation a few weeks ago from the same guy.
Sue Viapiano said,"He told us the story about his mother being in a wheelchair and that our name was going to be in the newspaper and he was going to bring us chocolate chip cookies. Actually, she was going to bring them personally to the door as a thank you for donating.”
Several business owners say they gave to Bryan, who was asking for any amount of money they could part with. Viapiano gave him $25. 
Viapiano said, “I couldn't believe that I had been taken. I kind of never let that happen."
Bryan was arrested last week in Brockport on a charge of petit larceny after one store clerk became suspicious and called police. Police say he falsely represented himself as being from the MS Society.  I-Team 10 checked with the MS Society, which tells I-Team 10 that Bryan is not registered to participate in any specific events and has no connection to the agency.
Debra Martin, Assistant NY Attorney General, said, “Unfortunately for every valuable and good charity, there's also a person out there who's trying to get money when they don't deserve it and are not legitimate."
So how do you know who you can trust? Debra Martin is with the New York State Attorney General's Office and says there are a number of signs to pick out a fraud.
Martin said, "If someone comes asking for cash, that should also be a red flag.”
Here's a few other tips for charitable giving from the New York State Attorney General's Office:
--Ask for written materials about the organization's programs and finances
--Beware of emotional appeals
--Wait and do some research
--You can always “no”