Donate to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

Three men arrested for pretending to be basketball players to get donations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Police say three men seeking donations were breaking the law in East Memphis.

Officers say they claimed to be raising money for AAU basketball, a legitimate organization for youth sports, but two of the suspects are in their twenties.

“They’re holding signs, they’re asking for money, they’re flagging cars down," said security guard Jennifer Holmes.
Police say Christopher Green, Kedarrius Griggs and Deone Malone were telling people on Thursday they needed money to go to a basketball tournament in Florida.

“They're nearby and we have to tell them to just go on," said Holmes. "They're always over here.”

Security called police after they reportedly wouldn’t leave the Poplar Avenue/Perkins Extd area and right when officers saw their flyers, they said they knew these weren’t the athletes they said they were.

“It’s very sad to me because you want to trust people, but you have to keep yourself guarded," said Cassi Zerwukh.Police say the three men, 18 and 22 years old, have no affiliation with AAU basketball.

And all three have had run-ins with police before.
Each one has been accused of pulling similar schemes in other parts of town, with criminal records dating back up to five years.

Court documents say they typically say they’re basketball players but sometimes identify with teams that don't even exist.

“It’s terrible they would portray they’re a real basketball team," said Holmes. "There are real teams out here that really need money and donations from different people and are out here and probably aren’t getting as much money as they are.”

People in the area say they expect anyone raising money for a team to be offering a service, like a car wash, or at least be dressing the part.

“If they have a uniform on or it seems like a real uniform and there are parents with them or adults with them that seem very professional about it, then I don’t mind giving money for that," said Zerwukh.

The three are now charged with criminal impersonation and are expected to be in court on Monday.

WREG tried reaching out to AAU basketball to hear what they had to say about this, but have not yet heard back.