Soliciting funds for cap and gown a common scam this time of year, experts say

Carlos Granda Image
Thursday, May 2, 2024
Watch out for cap-and-gown scam, experts say
Some scammers are hiring students to solicit funds for graduation caps and gowns, experts say.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The excitement of graduation: Students getting ready for the big day as they walk with their caps and gowns.

This year there are reports of some students being dropped off at local grocery stores to collect money for their caps and gowns for graduation. They claim they need $200.

As it turns out they don't need money at all.

"Americans give billions of dollars every year. And every year there's an increasing amount of our dollars that we give that go to fake charities," says Steve McFarland from the Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles and Silicon Valley

According to the Los Angeles Unified School District handbook the district will provide rental caps, tassels and gowns free of charge to high school graduating seniors for use during the graduation ceremony.

The students reportedly are being recruited through social media and hired to go out into the community. They they get half of all the money collected. The students allegedly tell people they can give them money through PayPal, Venmo and Cash App.

"They've become very adept using AI and artwork and the solicitations that you get on text, social media, emails, even phone calls. sound and look very real," says McFarland.

We've seen people on street corners asking for money, or jars in a convenience store saying someone passed away and they need money for a funeral. It's likely fake.

The Better Business Bureau has tips to identify scammers and how to donate to legitimate causes.

"Ask a few questions and be skeptical," says McFarland. "Like for example, how much does it cost to get a cap and gown? So why are you asking me for 20 bucks or 40 bucks?

Maybe to pay for more kids? Well where is the money going? What entity is keeping the money?"