Scam Central

Money Talks

Granada’s 5 million: Contrary to rumors in the blogosphere, Wendy McCaw has not notified the Granada Theatre Renovation Project that she’s reneging on her $5 million pledge, according to Granada executive director Peter Frisch.

On the Beat

Although McCaw made no donation last year, her $5 million pledge over 10 years is flexible with no scheduled amounts in any one year, Frisch told me. She also made no payment in 2004, either, he said.

She’s given no indication of a change of heart, he said. The $50 million renovation campaign is at the $40 million mark, according to Frisch. Public tours of the place are held every Friday at noon. Call 899-3000 for reservations. There’s a limit of 12 people.

Dress Scam: Reports Ron Hays: “At my daughter’s retail children’s store last week (in downtown Santa Barbara) a woman with a strong foreign accent called and said she had found a hypodermic needle embedded in a child’s dress, which she had received as a gift from a ‘friend.’ The friend purportedly bought the dress from my daughter’s store. The caller requested the owner call her back and tell her what they were ‘willing’ to do about it.

“My daughter explained she was the owner and requested the name and telephone number of the caller as well as the friend. My daughter informed the caller that she needed this information prior to contacting the police so the police could interview the friend, as well as the caller, concerning specific details of the transaction.

“The caller refused the information and then hung up. I know how much you like to report scams so I wanted to pass this on.”

Got the Finger: “The ‘Would You Be Willing to Help Me Get Home’ scam has arrived at Loreto Plaza,” reports Lacy David. “Today, a young Caucasian woman with beautiful, straight, brown, shiny hair, who was holding a blond baby who called me ‘Mama’ on cue, approached as I walked, dollar in hand, to buy a lottery ticket.

“I said I’d be glad to pray for her and got the finger. Had I not read your stories about these people, I probably would have been a real softie. Thanks, Barney; I’ll let you know if I win the $57 million.”

I haven’t heard from Lacy so I assume she either took the money and ran, or struck out. (Wonder if that was a borrowed baby?)

Deliverance: “My husband and I live in San Roque and have, what I think, is an interesting and irritating problem with the News-Press (I know-join the club!),” writes Chris Moore. “I’m wondering if you’ve heard of others experiencing the same situation.


“We canceled our NP subscription many months ago. When I called the circulation department, I asked to have my subscription stopped with the next day’s delivery and to give the balance of the money that I had already paid for the subscription to the carrier, as I’m sure the carriers have suffered a bit with the mass exodus of subscribers. Whether the carrier ever received the money, I’ll never know. Probably not. At any rate, the paper was not delivered the following day.

“Anyway, the point is that since the first of this year, we have received the paper numerous times in both our front and side yards (we live on a corner), even though it had been canceled early last fall. I’ve called circulation on four occasions asking to have the deliveries stopped. I started out asking nicely, with no result, so the fourth time that I called I was clearly angry, expressing myself in such a manner that I thought I had made my point once and for all.

“In essence, I explained to the woman with whom I was speaking that, beside the point that we don’t want that sad newspaper, should my husband and I be out of town and the paper is delivered, sits in the yard and advertises that we are not home, chances are greater that our home could be burglarized. I asked her what I could do to have delivery stopped and the answer was, ‘Call us if it happens again and we’ll have it stopped’!

“My reply to her was, ‘That’s what I’m doing, for the fourth time! Do I have to call Wendy McCaw personally to have this stopped? Or should I call the police and report the News-Press for littering (vandalism? harassment?)?

“I thought that she got it. Yet, this morning (last Saturday) guess what was in my yard! I am so irritated. Just called and left another clear message to stop delivery for the fifth time! GRRRRR! Have you heard of others experiencing unwanted deliveries? It has happened to a colleague at work.”

I’ve heard many such stories. I don’t know whether it’s just circulation department confusion due to the ongoing chaos at the paper, or a tactic aimed at keeping the readership numbers higher in order to satisfy advertisers. Either way, it’s not doing the NP‘s reputation any good.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at or (805) 965-5205. He also writes a Friday online column and a column in The Independent‘s Thursday print edition.


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