(CBS) — Young children are being sent to unfamiliar neighborhoods sell candy door-to-door in the name of charity. CBS 2’s Dave Savini has been investigating these operations and found, in some cases, criminals claim to have charities and use children to peddle their goods.
In one Naperville neighborhood, a young boy is seen walking alone, approaching strangers, selling treats.
“I’m selling Devil’s Food, chocolate cookie cakes, peanut chews,” said the boy.
CBS 2 found one boy, who says he is ten years old, and other children of different ages soliciting in the name of charity. CBS 2 found they had similar sales pitches but, in each case, we could not find any legitimate charity. Residents in the neighborhood being solicited are suspicious.
“You kind of give them five dollars and hope it’s going towards a good cause,” said Naperville resident Jennifer Riordan.
“We need to be more suspicious, which is sad, of people coming to the door pretending to represent charities,” said Kaitlin Denker, also from Naperville.
Permits are required for these types of door-to-door sales. A teenager CBS 2 found soliciting took off running, along with the man he said he works for, when asked for their credentials.
In the case of the ten year old, the boy handed us a letter that says he works for Robert T. Page, who is a repeat felony drug offender with numerous criminal cases. Page’s so-called charity, Second Chance Childhood, is not registered. The letter being used to solicit was written by Congressman Danny Davis’ office.
“It is scandalous,” said Congressman Davis. “It is shameful. It should never be done.”
Congressman Davis was outraged to see kids, and his name, being used this way.
“We don’t know any more about them and I’ve never met them,” Congressman Davis said about Robert Page and his charity.
The other youth peddler, the teenager, was selling for Terrell Brown and Kids of America, Inc. Aside from running when CBS 2 questioned them about their credentials, Brown picked up a rock and we called police. Brown is a repeat felony offender with crimes including drugs, domestic battery and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Brown dropped the rock and said he was not going to use it.
Police caught him using other children to sell desserts and cited him for illegal solicitation. Brown says he was not aware he needed a permit.
Terrell Brown has been cited for doing this in Wheaton, Glendale Heights, Villa Park and other suburbs.
In the case of Robert Page, Congressman Danny Davis says his staff member wrote a constituent letter acknowledging Page’s work in the community before verifying the charity existed.