Officials at Hazel Hawkins Hospital are raising the alarm about
an international telemarketing scam to bilk residents and local
businesses of their money by using the hospital’s name.
Officials at Hazel Hawkins Hospital are raising the alarm about an international telemarketing scam to bilk residents and local businesses of their money by using the hospital’s name.
Hospital officials are warning everyone they can not to donate to an apparent scam using the name Healing Hands Busy Books.
The organization, reportedly operating out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, solicits donations on the pretense that it is raising money – with the hospital’s help – to pay for activity books for sick and disabled children.
Hospital spokesperson Frankie Munoz said the hospital is not in any way working with or affiliated with Healing Hands.
“It’s very disappointing that a company would use sick children to make a dollar,” she said.
Munoz said she found out about the scam recently from Ellen Brown, executive director of the Hollister Independence Rally Committee. Munoz said Brown told her she had received a phone call about donating to the bogus activity book.
While Munoz was trying to call Healing Hands to tell them to stop using the hospital’s name, one of the hospital’s board members was called for a donation.
“But when he started asking them a lot of questions, they hung up on him,” Munoz said.
She said at least 17 other hospitals across the country have reportedly been used by the dubious organization.
“Most of it seems to be concentrated here in the West, but we know of hospitals as far away as Maine that were used by these con artists,” Munoz said.
Several hospitals have used the Internet to warn residents and other hospitals about the scam, she said.
“It seems to be a huge problem.” Munoz said. “The people that I have spoken with never received the supposed activity books.”
Hazel Hawkins Hospital has turned the matter over to the police for investigation.
“I’ve also called the attorney general’s office, the district attorney and the FBI since these guys seem to be working internationally,” Munoz said.
She also asks anyone who has been contacted by or made a donation to Healing Hands to call her at 636-2644.
Police said it is unknown exactly how much money has been stolen from residents and businesses through the swindle.