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Columbia Public Schools warns of potential ‘scam’ targeting athletic partners


Columbia Public Schools has sent out a message to its athletic sponsors and Battle High School families warning of a potential "scam."

CPS athletic director David Egan sent a message to athletic sponsors warning of an unauthorized group by the name of "Elite Sports Promos" that is seeking sponsorships on behalf of Battle High School and Battle Football.

"The email is coming from David Higuera from 'Elite Sport Promos' and is offering various marketing items and opportunities in exchange for sponsorship," Egan wrote. "This entity is not authorized to solicit sponsorships on behalf of CPS and I am concerned that this is a scam."

Egan said people should discard any emails from this group and not engage with them.

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said in an email the district has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Elite Sports' Texas address.

ABC 17 News reached out to Elite Sports Promos on Thursday and spoke with the business' lawyer, Davis Chapman. He said the company has a signed contract with Battle's cheer coach.

He sent ABC 17 News a photograph of what appeared to be a contract with a digital signature of the name of Battle head cheerleading coach Sarah Tornez. The listed date is March 13, 2024. Tornez's CPS email address was also listed.

The screenshot states the company would provide the school with "free spirit items through coordination community sponsorship." The screenshot includes a section for product options which includes 600 t-shirts, 2,000 cups, 1,000 water bottles, 1,000 mini basketballs, 1,000 mini footballs and eight banners.

Baumstark said only authorized signers can enter into agreements on behalf of the district or a school. She said Tornez would not be an authorized signer.

Baumstark further stated Elite Sports Promos has not been contacting businesses on behalf of Battle Cheer, but is instead reaching out using Battle Football and Battle for the Ages, the school's real fundraiser.

On top of this, Baumstark said the district has not received any items the company is claiming to provide.

"This is not something initiated by the district or by Battle High School," Baumstark said in an email. "It’s unfortunate that there are individuals and entities out there who will intentionally attempt to capitalize on our community’s desire to support our students and our schools by misrepresenting themselves and attempting to scam them."

ABC 17 News confirmed at least two local businesses, Columbia Orthopaedic Group and Boone Electric Cooperative, received an email from Elite Sports Promos. Both businesses said they questioned the email's validity right away.

That email said, "We're getting geared up for the 2024 Varsity Football season, and we were hoping to partner up with your company as a proud sponsor! It is because of sponsors that schools are able to support athletic programs and student athletes."

The email further stated that a business' support would help get "spirit items" made for schools at no cost to the school. It also claimed participating businesses would be announced at half time during every home game.

ABC 17 News also obtained a voicemail recording in which someone named David introduced himself as a "project coordinator working with Battle High School." The caller ID was listed as 'Elite Sports.'

According to the Better Business Bureau, Elite Sports Promos is a company based out of Fort Worth, Texas. The company has an "F" rating and is not BBB accredited. Reports show the company has a pattern of complaints.

There have been 34 total complaints against Elite Sport Promos to the BBB in the last three years. Consumers all say they receive solicitations from the company, claiming to have an agreement with local high schools.

The earliest complaint to the BBB is dated September 2021, with the most recent being dated February of this year.

The website listed for Elite Sports Promos on the BBB's site is inactive.

Law enforcement agencies in New York and Pennsylvania have published scam alerts against Elite Sports Promos in the last three years.

BBB spokeswoman Khesha Duncan said if someone receives an unsolicited call or email from an unknown business, they should begin asking question such as where is the business located? How did it get this contact information? Who has this business worked with in the past?

"If you're asking those kinds of questions and they're legitimate, they should have answers for those questions," Duncan said. "If they don't and they sort of hem and haw or act agitated because you're asking too many questions, I think those are definite red flags."

The legitimate "Battle for the Ages" fundraiser for the school occurs at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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