The three men were witnessed displaying false credentials and soliciting cash donations from pedestrians, according to Santa Monica Police.
Compton resident Rodney Muhammad, 56; L.A. resident Derek Haskins, 53; and Santa Monica resident Jerry White, 53, were arrested and charged with theft by false pretenses, identity theft, false advertising, forgery of a government seal and aggressive panhandling.
Anyone who may have given money to one of the suspects or may have information related to the case should contact Santa Monica Attorney's Consumer Affairs Specialist Paula Rockenstein at (310) 458-8364, or Santa Monica Police Detective Robert D'Andrea at (310) 458-2201 ext. 6679.
The Santa Monica Police Department and the City Attorney's Office urged caution when making charitable donations, issuing tips for charitable giving:
1. Call the charity directly and make sure the solicitor is legitimate.
2. Find out what percentage of donations actually goes to the cause, as opposed to administration and paying the solicitors. (By law, charities are required to disclose this information.)
3. When solicited for charity, learn about the organization, its activities and fundraising practices.
4. Ask for written information.
5. Watch out for copycat scams. Some questionable organizations use names that closely resemble those of well-established charitable organizations.