Scam artists using KU Theatre name to get money from victims - KCTV5

Scam artists using KU Theatre name to get money from victims

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LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

A group of scam artists is using the name of KU Theatre to line their own pockets.

So far, the theatre department has received calls from two suspicious would-be donors who didn't give.

A woman in Lawrence was approached by a female solicitor last week. Around the same time, a woman in Lee's Summit approached by two men in their late 20s dishing out the same line.

The solicitors claim they are actors with KU Theatre raising money for a trip to England.

The Lee's Summit woman said the men were persistent and took offense when she put her foot down.

"I can see why a patron would think it's legitimate," said Katherine Pryor, managing director of theatre. "We do take students on study abroad programs. We have taken them to London in the past, but we don't raise door-to-door."

Typically, legitimate fundraisers center around events, like a Star Trek party in the works with an appearance by Bill Cobb, an actor who was in Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as blockbuster movies like The Bodyguard.

Pryor explained, "We host fundraising events, distribute direct mail requests for funding, and we provide donors the opportunity to contribute through our website. But we would never have students walk door-to-door."

John Staniunas, director of the upcoming KU Theatre production of Kiss Me, Kate, was pleased to hear that the crooks were unable to con the two women who called.

"I think it's really a credit to our patrons," he said, "as smart as they are, to realize that the department doesn't do things like this and actually KU never raises funds like that."

But Pryor said one of those women actually did write a check then quickly canceled it after calling to confirm her suspicions.

Pryor contacted KCTV5 to alert the public because she is concerned many people less aware of the theatre's methods could be duped.

"It's our integrity that's at issue," Pryor said. "We do ask for support sometimes. As a matter of fact, we are doing a fundraiser in September to raise money to renovate our lobby, so the last thing we need is somebody not telling the truth about what we are doing."

She said the same scam surfaced two years ago, so she is concerned it could be the same people. She is confident, however, that it's not any of the actual theatre students. Police did not catch anyone then and have no leads yet this time.

If you are interested in supporting the actual theater, go to kutheatre.com.

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