Scandal hits South

By Stepan Houtchens
Published: March 2009

As of late February, several South parents became victims of a scam perpetrated by a group identifying itself as the School Booster Co. The group disguised itself as being related to the South Booster club and is currently under investigation by the Newton Police.

According to South Booster club president Jonathan Frieze, the authentic Booster Club is a nonprofit organization which “raises money for Newton South Athletics, wellness, and spirit.

Newton North PTO co-president Janet Porcaro was the first to receive a phone call from the alleged company. The call referred to a donation of money toward presumed school benefits.

According to Porcaro, her secretary notified her two days later that an invoice had arrived from the same company that had contacted them earlier that week. The invoice requested that a payment of $89.50 be made out to School Booster Co. The top of the invoice stated “Newton South High School Spring Sports Poster 2009. The payment was to be made via credit card.

Porcaro was surprised at the request and contacted South Booster club co-president Julie Saul. Saul did not recognize the invoice and subsequently contacted the police.

The invoice in question turned out to be phony. School Booster Co.’s alleged collaboration with the South Booster club and with the school itself was false.

According to Newton Police officer John Panica, multiple businesses have been sent the fraudulent invoice. “The school Booster Club isn’t benefiting [from this], he said.

“People who are vulnerable [to apprehending the invoice] might think [the payment] is going to a cause, said Porcaro.

Principal Brian Salzer has confirmed that South is not, in any way, affiliated with the company. According to Panica, the South Booster club’s largest project is sponsoring the upcoming golf tournament.

“People get burnt by a scam like this, Frieze said.

Recently, Porcaro received a second invoice from the fraudulent group.

A PTSO email was sent out in hope of warning as many people as possible about the fraud. The email stated that South has no such fund-raiser titled as ‘ËœNewton South High School 2009 Spring Sports Poster’ and that police have been notified and are investigating.

“The company is using the city’s name, South Athletic Director, Scott Perrin said. Perrin also mentioned that similar scams are not uncommon.

According to Frieze, scams such as that by School Booster Co. hurt legitimate non-profitable organizations and make necessary charitable donations harder and harder to obtain.

“In the economic environment we have now, it’s hard enough to raise the funds needed to support programs that are already cut to the bone. These crooks hurt everyone, Frieze said.

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