A group of telemarketers may have repeatedly impersonated New Haven police officers in order to solicit donations, police said.

Some New Haven citizens have complained to the New Haven Police Department about telemarketers calling them and allegedly giving the impression that they were affiliated with the department. Police said that in some cases the callers used force and intimidation to persuade New Haven residents to donate to their organization. Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing said the Police Department does not conduct any fund-raising efforts through such phone and mailing services.

Police said telemarketers have also called city residents on behalf of the Connecticut Police Officers Foundation. While this organization is allowed to engage in fund-raising activities, it is not affiliated in any way with the New Haven Police Department and does not donate any funds to it.

“We want to make it — clear that the New Haven Police Department is not part of any telemarketing campaign,” Wearing said.

He added that the department is working alongside the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate any potential fraudulent telemarketing activity.

Telemarketers failing to operate according to the law may face both civil and criminal penalties.

Police said the best way for the public to avoid falling prey to illegal telemarketing is to “be wary” of callers soliciting donations. They also encouraged citizens to ask questions about the organization the caller claims to represent, such as whether it is approved by the state of Connecticut to engage in fund-raising activities.

–Brian Ginsberg