CLEVELAND - A girl claiming to be 12 years old has been fraudulently soliciting contributions for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, telling donors she is raising money because her grandmother died from the disease, authorities said Tuesday.
The girl, identifying herself as Victoria or Vickie, has approached people in stores, restaurants and taverns in Cleveland, Parma, Strongsville, Brecksville, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Mentor, said Parma detective Marty Compton.
"She told us she was doing this because her grandmother had just recently died of MS," said Elisabetta Kochmit, manager at Slim & Chubby's tavern in Strongsville. "We're a community oriented establishment. It's not unusual to hold charity events here."
The girl told Kochmit she was trying to raise $10,000. Kochmit gave the girl $20, and the tavern's bartender and several customers donated, after the girl told them her father would mail them passes to the Cedar Point amusement park.
Telephone numbers the girl has left with donors either did not exist or were to people who knew nothing about the girl, Compton said.
He said police believe they may have identified the people involved, but would not be more specific.
The MS Society is warning people to be cautious.
"It makes me sad that at such a young age this kind of thing is being taught to that girl." said Jennifer Hamilton, spokeswoman for the National MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter, in the Cleveland suburb Independence.41.50436 -81.69046