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Possible book-selling scam claims to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital

Business owners warn of possible book-selling scam that claims to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital, July 12, 2016. (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE - Some Queen Anne business owners believe a man going door-door asking for donations to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital is all part of a book-selling scam.

A handful of business owners said the man walked up and down West McGraw Street on Monday afternoon trying to get donations from businesses. He didn't have any luck until he got to Stacya Silverman Salon & Gallery.

The owner of the salon, Stacya Silverman, was sitting at her desk when she saw the man approach and knock on her front door, which was locked.

"My first impulse was don't open the door because you're by yourself but then I thought 'What if it's a customer?' so I open the door and he barges right in," recalled Stacya Silverman.

She said at first the man seemed pleasant. He told her he's an Iraqi war veteran and that he's selling books to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital.

"He said he had children's books that he was selling and he was going to give them to the (Seattle) Children's Hospital and I'm like 'Is this real?' but I was by myself so I gave him the $40 and he got out the door and I locked the door and I thought 'I bet that was a scam,'" said Silverman.

Her instincts might be right. The receipt the man gave her listed a company called Diamond Green Ent. that included a fake address in Las Vegas.

"He was such a fast-talker and then when he was filling out the slip, when he took the tax receipt slip out, I was looking at it like 'Hmm, I've not seen one like that before,'" said Silverman.

Silverman wasn't the only one the man approached. The owner of Malena's Taco Shop, located next door to Silverman, gave the guy about $100. Silverman tried to warn her neighbors but didn't reach them quick enough.

However, it was a different story down the street at Ken's Market where cameras captured video of the man who wore a striped polo shirt with big letters across the chest.

"He just came out of the blue, no phone call no nothing," said co-owner of Ken's Market George O'Connor. "He just showed up all big and menacing like he was going to intimidate me to give him money."

O'Connor said the man gave him the same story but O'Connor was suspicious.

"It was a good fake cause always pulling up (Seattle) Children's Hospital gets everybody's heart strings going," O'Connor said.

The man left the market and at some point he also stopped by Weisz Dental but the receptionist told him to leave. From there, it's likely the man headed to Silverman's salon.

According to an email from Seattle Children's Hospital to KOMO news, hospital staff learned of the donation solicitation on Monday when Silverman contacted Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Foundation. The email also noted the hospital has not received any donations from Diamond Green Ent. and that the hospital's Security Services team is investigating the legitimacy of the fundraising effort.

Silverman, however, said when she called Seattle Children's Hospital on Monday the person on the line told her, "we know about it."

Silverman doesn't want to dishonor the man if he is indeed a veteran, but she's hoping no one else loses money to what she believes is a scam.

"It's sad," said Silverman. "It's sad to take money away that would go to a real charity."

Silverman tried to call the Seattle Police Department's non-emergency line to report the incident but couldn't reach anyone.

At least one Queen Anne resident told KOMO News a man knocked on her door on Monday seeking the same kind of donations but they told the man to leave.

Seattle Police said you should be wary of door-to-door vendors and if you're not comfortable with a situation tell the person they're trespassing and do not give them money.

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