Village believes con artist posing as paper deliveryman

Dec. 7, 2011

It appears a scam artist is playing the Grinch, trying to take holiday tips from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel subscribers under the guise of being their newspaper carrier.

Local police are working with the Postal Inspector's office in investigating the scam, which thus far has targeted homes in Brookfield, Elm Grove and Pewaukee. Residents in those communities found fliers from a man with a Pewaukee mailing address portraying himself as a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel carrier in their newspaper tubes or mailboxes. That flier instructs the recipient how to send him a holiday tip.

Elm Grove Police Chief Jim Gage said a customer notified her real paper carrier that someone else had been putting fliers in newspaper boxes in the community.

The real newspaper carrier then sent a notice to his customers warning them of the scam as well as a confirmation letter from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel circulation. A Journal-Sentinel spokeswoman said the company is aware of the scam and has sent letters to its customers letting them know not to give money to the man referenced in the flier.

The fraudulent flier came with a Christmas card put in with Milwaukee Journal-Sentinels and Wall Street Journals, or simply into mailboxes in some cases. The note contains a name and address where checks can be mailed, and according to police, some residents did indeed mail checks to the fake newspaper carrier.

According to police officials, the man purporting to be the carrier never approached anyone in person to ask for money.

The Elm Grove Police Department is taking the opportunity to caution residents against providing money or gifts to anyone they don't know. Police officials recommend you contact your newspaper service provider or your delivery person directly to verify who you are doing business with.

Shannon Gray, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel distribution operations zone manager, said anyone with a question about the validity of a carrier or a letter from a carrier can contact the customer service line at (414) 224-2222 to confirm the information.

She said it is disappointing that legitimate, hard-working carriers might be deprived of holiday tips this year because some residents might be nervous about responding to such requests.

Gray said Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel renewal notices have a box that can be checked to add a tip. She suggests that is surest way to ensure that your money goes to the correct person.

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