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'Cheerleader' scams neighbors for cash

by Maggie Crane

Posted on June 6, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 7 at 10:16 AM

(KMOV) -- This con artist appears to be someone you can trust -- a college cheerleader raising money for a children's hospital, but police say that she's not who she says she is.

You know that funny feeling you get when something just doesn't seem right?  Take it from one woman who wishes she would have trusted her gut but instead got entwined in a good sale that police say is nothing more than a shakedown.

"She looked like a teenager, just very friendly and bubbly," Sandrarae Hyatt says.
But police say the girl who came through the Edwardsville Berkshire neighborhood to collect cash spit a crooked game, telling people that half the money they donated would pay for her cheerleading competition in Florida and that the other half would go to local hospitals.  And that tugs on Sandrarae's heart strings.

"...When she said that I thought about my own daughter who had cancer and that kind of won me over to go ahead and write a check."

But by the next morning, Hyatt had a change of heart and canceled her check.  And sure enough, I checked with SIUE, and the cheerleaders aren't going to Florida, the squad is not collecting money, and the girl who came to Hyatt's home isn't even a member.

"It was just a terrible thing to do," Hyatt says.  "When you think about the children who have cancer and the things that they go through, it was pretty low."

Four neighbors were also scammed and forked over checks and cash in the rip-off.  Police say the girl's smooth-talking story was part of a racket with Midwest Circulation, a Missouri company with an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.  Police warn that the "cheerleader" might try to sell this story again in your neighborhood.