MN Youth Basketball Team Fundraiser is (Likely) a Scam
A fundraising flyer posted at the Mall of America for a Minnesota youth basketball team appears to be a scam.
A photo posted to the Minnesota thread of Reddit shows what appears to be a fundraising flyer for a Minnesota youth basketball team the Magallanes. At closer inspection, however, details within the flyer don't seem to add up. At first glance, the flyer shows a photo of a mostly-Black youth basketball team, the name of the team above the photo, information on the fundraiser and contact details. "PSA: Be Aware of classic "Youth Sports" Scam," reads the photo's caption. "Spotted last night at MOA."
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Here's what the information below the team photo reads:
The Magallanes AAU basketball team has been on a roll the last few weeks," reads the flyer. "Winning first place in our last two tournaments, we start getting noticed in our league. With all that going on in the world right now a chance to play for these kids is slim. Luckily the AAU basketball league has stepped in to keep us on the court. We are invited to Las Vegas, NV to represent Minnesota in a 100 team tournament called the "Storm Classic." In order to attend each team must come up with $8,000 for funding (food, travel, Lodging, and entrance fees). We are a Non-Profit family ran team, our funding depends on family, friends, hard work and fundraising in the communities we live. Help us continue to strive for greatness on and off the court. For more info visit AAUSPORT.org. Contact Jamesreid35@gmail.com.
"ALWAYS be skeptical when somebody is asking you for money," said one person in the post's comments. "Ask a lot of questions, make phone calls, verify what they are telling you. Because it is probably a total lie." The advice is good. After an initial read-through, we noticed several red flags.
The first red flag is the poor grammar throughout; a legitimate fundraiser flyer would likely have gone through edits and revisions for misspelling and grammatical errors to make the best impression possible. Another red flag is the mention that the team is run by a nonprofit, but no name or information of the nonprofit is given; nonprofits are always looking for promotion and support, and details and information to learn more surely would have been provided. A third red flag is the lack of reliable contact details; only an email address is given, and no name or phone number provided. Noticeably, no form of giving (like banking details or link to a website) is provided, suggesting that someone is asking for cash donations.
While all those are red flags at face value, they could all be missed by anyone passing by or reading quickly. A little more investigating on our end found almost immediately that no team in Minnesota named Magallanes seems to exist. For starters, it's an interesting choice of team name, especially in Minnesota; from what we could find, the word "Magallanes" is Spanish for "Magellan." Interestingly, someone else in the post's comments pointed out that the team name and logo looks suspiciously like that of a professional baseball team in Venezuela:
"This logo is stolen from a famous Venezuelan baseball team. Google 'Navegantes del Magallanes.' Something is fishy for sure."
While a website for the Minnesota Amateur Athletic Association (AAU) exists, the website included in the flyer seems unusual. Not only does the URL show differently (http://ww7.aausport.org/), but it appear slapped together with various links. A header at the top of the page suggests that it may also be for sale.
Interestingly, a tournament called Storm Classic in Las Vegas does exist and is scheduled for November 2021; however the event itself is actually a bodybuilding competition and makes not mention of basketball.
"I'm pretty sure I got scammed by some kid pulling this same sort of thing a few years ago in front of the Target in Highland Park," shared another in the Reddit post's comment section. "Felt weird but kid seemed genuine. Looking back, he basically just had a piece of paper like this and a tiny backstory. Oh well, enjoy your $5, kid."
If you see the flyer above -- or any fundraisers for sports teams -- be wary and do your research first.
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