WESTFIELD, NJ — A Texas-based company has been soliciting donations from local businesses under the false premise that the funds would benefit school athletics programming through sports merchandising, police said Monday.
Sgt. Michael Walsh said neither the high school nor the Westfield Boosters authorized the sales, and those entities are not receiving the benefit of the donations.
“Sports Media Advertising has been soliciting donations from local businesses under the assumption that their logo will go on Westfield merchandise and sales will benefit the school,” Walsh said. Police are investigating, he said.
A school official confirmed the sales are not connected to the district or its athletics department.
Westfield High School Athletics Director Sandra Mamary encouraged any businesses with suspicion about a solicitation for youth athletics to contact her department.
“I really want to encourage merchants to call the athletic office before they donate if there’s any question because obviously a company from Texas should raise some flags,” Mamary said. “If it’s our teams and our student athletes reaching out for donations, by all means donate. They’re our kids. It’s very upsetting to me when our community is so generous and gets taken advantage of by a fraudulent company.”
Messages left with Sports Media Advertising were not returned Monday.
A profile of the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website states that Sports Media Advertising has a history of complaints and also goes by the name Sports Media Marketing.
“Sports Media Marketing has a pattern of disputes alleging the company falsely claims to be affiliated or working on behalf of local schools in their area to raise money for the school's athletic team,” the Better Business Bureau states. “Additionally, consumers allege an inability to obtain a refund or contact Sports Media Marketing after signing their agreement.”
In 2017, the Fort Worth-Star Telegram reported scams involving the company, which had previously done business under two other names before adopting the name Sports Media Advertising.
The newspaper report said the company sells T-shirts, banners and other spirit-themed items to companies with a loosely veiled promise that they will be distributed by local school districts.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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