Lisa Monahan, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tis' the season for giving. As charities make a push for more donations during the holidays, the Better Business Bureau warns con artists may also be making a run at your money.
Disguised as Santa, Bob Manista with the BBB demonstrated how con artists steal money from legitimate charities this season,
"Any idiot can buy a Santa suit and bell and stand out here and get your money," he said.
In just 15 minutes, dressed as Santa and carrying a bucket, Manista collected $5.
Manista asked a woman, " Why did you stop and donate today?"
She answered, "I always do."
Monista took the opportunity to explain to the woman how "a lot of people think they are just throwing in a buck or ‘It's just the change in my pocket,' but that is what it is going to keep a con man in business."
Manista warns everyone should look for a placard or logo of the organization seeking donations before giving money.
Major Dan Proctor with The Salvation Army says their volunteers wear aprons with the logo and are asked not to wear Santa hats to help eliminate confusion,
"We will always have identifiable workers," he said.
Manista says scammers often use sound-alike names of well-known and respected charities or they invent charities that will target older donors by pretending to help police and firefighters, sick or needy children and veterans.
All donations collected by Manista during this story were turned over to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign which kicked off Friday.
The campaign's goal this year is to raise $600,000 in Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties.