CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A few days ago, Vanessa Cuevas was on her way out of town.
When she stopped at the intersection of North Saint Mary’s Street and Farm Road 351 in Beeville, she spotted people holding signs, asking for “Donations Help Maria Marrow Transplant.”
Cuevas took a picture of that sign and did a reverse search on google. What she found were several articles saying it was a scam.
Cody Wittner, who works in the area said he saw this group of people around the same time.
"Yeah, I saw some people out there holding a sign. I wasn't too sure what the sign said,” Wittner explained.
He added in a small town like Beeville, it’s a big red flag when you don't know the individuals asking for donations.
Wittner believes scammers rely on the generosity of the locals.
"I see it constantly happening and so I know others will probably donate. Normally, it's probably the old folks driving by and they're sympathetic for the people who are out there in the heat,” said Wittner.
Katie Galan, the Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau has seen several reports of this type of fraud. It’s known as a sidewalk scam.
"On one hand they really get to tug at your heart strings, and they get to decrease the time that you have to investigate. It's really a perfect scam for them,” she explained.
Sidewalk scammers have also been seen using electronic wallet apps. Galan advises to never send money to someone you don't know.
"You can at least go in and research that name. Maybe put scam next to the name and see what pops up,” Galan said.
Galan said you can try a reverse search like Cuevas did.
When Cuevas posted this scam on Facebook. People in Kingsville, Victoria and Floresville immediately responded saying they also saw this scam in their city.
The Bee County Sheriff Office Deputy Chief Ronnie Jones tells us they have not looked into this group of scammers. They encourage people to come forward with any relevant information to begin an investigation.