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Bonn parishes warn against fraudsters: How to know if they are real “Sternsinger” at your door

Bonn parishes warn against fraudsters : How to know if they are real “Sternsinger” at your door

Phony “Sternsinger” are said to be underway in Bonn. “Sternsinger” are normally small groups of young people going door to door, singing carols, giving blessings and collecting money for charity. But three young men in Endenich asked for donations, which were not turned over to the organizing parish.

The parish association Bonn-Süd warns of phony “Sternsinger” underway in Bonn. Youth adviser Marco Limberger confirmed that an incident involving fake “Sternsinger” took place in Bonn-Endenich. "A member of the organizing team brought it to our attention on Thursday," he tells the GA. The member had been approached by neighbors. Apparently, last Sunday, three young men between the ages of about 18 and 20 years were on bicycles on Verweyenstrasse. They were not wearing clothing typically worn by “Sternsinger” but they are said to have distributed stickers bearing blessings and to have asked for donations. “But we did not receive any of the donations,” said Limberger.

While stickers with money transfer forms are usually distributed in neighborhoods, no doorbells are rung and cash donations are not collected, the parish association clarifies in a message on social media.

Real “Sternsinger” have ID cards with them

Anyway, there are no “Sternsinger” out caroling this year, he said. "And if there are, then they are children who are dressed up," Limberger continued. "Each Sternsinger has his or her own ID card, and on it is their name and the signature of the pastor with the official seal of the parish." From surrounding parishes, such as Röttgen or Lengsdorf, no reports of fake “Sternsinger” have been reported so far, Limberger said.

Limberger can't say where the phony “Sternsinger” got the stickers as they were not missing any. In the church of St. Mary Magdalene, someone was always there, and the stickers are only handed out individually.

The stickers can be ordered free of charge by anyone via the website of the children's missionary organization "Die Sternsinger". But only five stickers are given out per order. At the moment, the website indicates that there is a delivery time of five to ten working days. "Production and shipping costs money, after all," says Thomas Römer, press spokesman for the Children's Missionary Agency, explaining the limitation.

Normally, the blessing stickers are printed on large contact sheets. "The Sternsinger then go from house to house and pull one sticker off at a time," says Römer. Because of the current situation, he says, they also decided to print individual blessing stickers. "It was important to us that the blessing really reaches every person." The stickers are otherwise only delivered to parishes and to verified addresses. "So we are sure that the materials are sent to the right places." Römer could not say how many of the stickers have come to Bonn. "Nationwide, we have sent out over ten million stickers so far.”

The Bonn city deanery is not aware of any further cases but spokeswoman Ayla Jacob did say that some churches had stickers available for people to take with them. But normally people from the church were present.

Police asks for witnesses

In the meantime, the Bonn-Süd parish association has filed a complaint against unknown persons. Police spokesman Simon Rott confirmed that they had received such a complaint to the GA. "Of course, investigations are now being initiated," says Rott. The case has been assigned to Kriminalkommissariat 24, which deals with fraud. "We hope for tips from the public," says Rott. Anyone having information can call police at 0228/150.