Group billing itself as a suicide prevention nonprofit appears to be scammers, Steamboat Police say
Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Celine Wicks says the group has no affiliation with the district.
A group claiming to be fundraising for suicide prevention at several locations in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday appears to be fraudulent, according to Steamboat Springs Police Department.
The group, Stand for the Silent, which has been reported at several locations in Steamboat including Natural Grocers, Walmart, City Market, Safeway and Jimmy Johns, is asking for donations and claims to be fundraising to give a presentation at a local school.
Steamboat Springs Interim Police Chief Mark Beckett said the group claims to have permission from the city but that he believes that is false and that the group is fraudulently raising money. He said he intended to do more investigating on Thursday, but at the time he believes these attempts to fundraise are a scam.
“I’m very confident at this point that they are likely scammers,” Beckett told The Yampa Valley Bugle. “In some cases, they were claiming to be suicide prevention, in some places they are claiming to be an anti-bullying nonprofit.”
Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Celine Wicks said the group has no affiliation with the district and that when they learned about what was happening locally, they called the police.
The website for the group says Stand for the Silent is a nonprofit that works to address school bullying with an engaging, factual and emotional methodology. In December, the Washington County School District in St. George, Utah also sounded the alarm about “unethical and immoral” fundraising in that community, according to St. George News.
Mindy Marriott, the executive director of the local suicide prevention nonprofit Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, said the group has no affiliation with them, despite claims she has heard that say the money raised locally stays local. Marriott says she has seen the group here in previous years as well, yet REPS has never received any money from them.
Marriott ran into a representative from the group raising money outside of Natural Grocers on Wednesday who said they were raising $30,000 to put on a presentation at Steamboat Springs High School. Wicks said they had heard the presentation was aimed at a local elementary school, though which one was unclear and none of the local elementary school principals were aware of the group.
“This is not even remotely ethical,” Marriott said. “You’re making people believe that you are associated with us when you’re not, we’ve never even spoken to you guys and you’re taking our money from our community that they think is staying here and you’re running with it.”
It is unclear if the people claiming to be raising money for the group are actually affiliated with the group. According to its website, Stand for the Silent has a mission of bringing awareness to “bulling and the real devastation it causes.” The website states it was started by students in Oklahoma in 2010. According to St. George News, the organization is based out of Perkins, Oklahoma.
Beckett warned locals to be skeptical of people attempting to raise money outside of local establishments.
“My belief is that these folks are passing through town and that they’re scamming,” Beckett said. “I really encourage people to double check foundations that they’re donating to and to be very wary of these sort of pop-up fundraising groups because oftentimes they are scammers.”
Editor's Note: The photo on this story has been cropped after publication to exclude the faces of the representatives fundraising for Stand for the Silent at the request of a representative for the group. That representative, who asked to not be identified, has also noted that they did not need a permit to fundraise in the way they did on Wednesday and provided an email from City Manager Gary Suiter confirming that. The Yampa Valley Bugle has posed several additional questions to this person about where the money they raise goes and has not received any response.