Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sharpton's Group Admits Passing out Scam Forms

Sharpton denies any knowledge of this scam
Atlanta, Oct 2, 2011.  Last week more than 700 senior citizens filled out a form promising a $500 check from the American Opportunities Stimulus Program.

They supplied information like their name, address, birth date and social security numbers, all with the promise of getting a Visa Check card in return. But on Thursday, Fulton County government put out a warning that it might be an identity theft scam.

Fulton County even sent their own camera crew to the Atlanta headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, where the forms were being handed out by Vanessa Emerson and her son,  Brandon. 

The National Action Network is Sharpton's own community organizing group, much like Jesse Jackson's own Rainbow Coalition, or Barack Obama's ACORN.

In the video Vanessa Emerson can be seen brandishing a photo copy of a U.S. Treasury check saying, "I'm going to show ya'll, I got my money," to encourage senior citizens to fill out the form so they could get "their money too."

After the alarm went out, Brandon Emerson returned hundreds of the forms to the NAN headquarters at 632 Peoples Street so they could be given back to the seniors who filled them out. Even though his mother was wearing a NAN tee-shirt in the Fulton County government video, her son claimed they are not affiliated with the organization.

Worried seniors continued to stream to the local NAN headquarters on Friday fearing someone may be trying to steal their identities.

"I am scared and I'm going to the bank now and put a fraudulent lock on my account," senior Bobbie Early told 11 Alive News on Friday.

Eventually the Southeast Regional Director for NAN showed up at the headquarters and began reassuring seniors no one was going to compromise the information.

Tyleis Speight admitted that the forms had been collected there, but claimed she was a victim, too. "National Action Network has been frauded as well," Speight said. She said they're still trying to find out who was responsible.

Vanessa Emerson displays a copy of her check
 Reached by phone on Friday, Vanessa Emerson said she and her son had no idea the forms they'd been collecting might be fake. She said they were going out of town and would comment more when they return next week.

The national NAN office insisted they knew nothing about what had happened.

"We had no knowledge of what was going on," said NAN Executive Director Tamika Mallory. "We would never authorize anything like that," she added.

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