By RYAN DUNN
Phil Gunder recently opened the door of his north Findlay home to a student in an Elmwood High School letter jacket.
The boy spoke quickly about collecting money for a wrestling team statistician who is fighting cancer. He seemed anxious and could not provide forms with more information, Gunder said.
Gunder, who did not have cash to donate, later learned it was likely a scam.
Elmwood Superintendent Tony Borton said Thursday that three of the district’s high school students are believed to have collected funds in Hancock and Wood counties using varying fraudulent cancer stories.
Some stories reportedly involved a fictional teacher, while others were about a student, Borton said.
“None of them are true. They simply gave a different story to each victim,” Borton said.
School officials expect to discipline the students, Borton said. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office and Findlay Police Department are investigating potential criminal charges, the superintendent said.
The investigation began when a Findlay resident called the high school to say one of the visits seemed suspicious, Borton said.
It is unclear the number of targeted homes or how much money was taken, Borton said.
Borton said the scam appealed to people’s emotions.
“You talk cancer, it tears out your heart,” Borton said.
The school district was not at all involved, Borton said. Its future fundraisers will include forms to prove their authenticity, he said.
Findlay police have said they believe there are numerous victims in the region. Those with information are being asked to contact law enforcement.
Gunder said children routinely visit his home in hopes of selling items such as cookies or magazines for charity. He plans to be more careful after the false Elmwood story.
“It’s crazy to think someone that age could come up with something like that and go through with it,” Gunder said.