Virginia charity officials are investigating an out-of-state organization that is selling bumper stickers, buttons and other merchandise locally with the "Just Say No To Drugs" slogan.
Virginia officials said that donors are told that purchases from The Colonial Corp. of Culver City, Calif., will benefit several organizations, including the Just Say No Foundation, of which Nancy Reagan is honorary chairwoman.
The Just Say No Foundation of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Reagan's projects office in the White House stated that they have no affiliation with The Colonial Corp.
William Green, a Colonial spokesman, said telephone solicitors have never suggested an affiliation with Reagan's antidrug campaign, or with the Just Say No Foundation.
"What we say is that it's 'benefiting the war against drugs,' " he explained, adding that he could understand how the "confusion" could "easily happen."
Maryland and District charity officials said yesterday they had received no complaints about The Colonial Corp.
Virginia initiated its investigation after receiving inquiries from purchasers, including one woman who agreed to spend as much as $500 on the antidrug merchandise, according to Michael Wright, a charities investigator with Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs.
Wright gave this account of a Colonial telephone solicitation:
Solicitors ask customers to buy items, then ask for a credit card number, checking account number or Social Security number. They then suggest that the items purchased be donated to a local service club so the purchase can be claimed as a tax deduction.
Potential customers are also told that they have been selected by computer to receive a prize, including a Hyundai car, or $25,000 worth of diamonds, or an Apple IIc personal computer.
The odds of winning the car or diamonds are 1 in 50,000, and the odds of winning the computer are 2 in 50,000, state officials say.
Virginia officials also say Colonial is not registered to solicit within the state. Colonial's Green said that Colonial is exempt from Virginia charity laws because it asks people to buy antidrug merchandise -- not donate money.
Wright said that other complaints regarding Colonial have been received from Virginia consumers who said that Colonial is soliciting on behalf of the International Missing Children's Foundation of La Jolla, Calif.
Consumers are confusing this charity with the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has received numerous inquiries about the mix-up, Virginia officials said.
There is no connection between the groups.
Green replied that Colonial has been "sanctioned" by the California children's foundation, and that funds generated were used to assist with its investigations.
A foundation spokeswoman said Colonial solicited on her group's behalf, but for only about three weeks.