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FTC, All 50 States, and the District of Columbia Charge Four Sham Cancer Charities and Related Individuals with Deceptive Practices
May 19, 2015
AUGUSTA - Attorney General Janet T. Mills, together with law enforcement partners in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission, have jointly filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against four phony cancer charities, Cancer Fund of America, Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Inc., Cancer Support Services, Inc., and The Breast Cancer Society, Inc., and their operators for allegedly scamming more than $187 million from consumers throughout the country.
The joint complaint alleges that the nonprofit corporations portrayed themselves as legitimate charities with substantial nationwide programs that provided direct support to cancer patients, children with cancer, and breast cancer patients in the United States. In fact, most consumers’ donations benefitted only the operators, their families and friends, and professional fundraisers that often received 85% or more of every donation. The plaintiffs claim that the defendants misrepresented that contributions would be used for charitable purposes, misrepresented specific program benefits, misrepresented revenue and program expenses related to international gifts-in-kind, and misrepresented that the primary focus of their reported programs was to provide direct assistance to individuals in the United States.
Five defendants, Children’s Cancer Fund, The Breast Cancer Society, Rose Perkins, James Reynolds, II, and Kyle Effler, have entered into settlements through stipulated judgments with the FTC, the states and the District of Columbia that, among other things, require the charities to dissolve, and ban the individuals from fundraising or operating any other charities.
Attorney General Mills said, “I am pleased to join with my state and federal colleagues and the District of Columbia in this cooperative effort to combat charity fraud that has taken advantage of so many generous consumers throughout our country. Through settlement with Children’s Cancer Fund and The Breast Cancer Society, we have permanently stopped solicitations that were based on deceptive claims to consumers that their donations would assist children with cancer and breast cancer patients. We are committed to fight Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and James Reynolds, Sr. in court to halt their deceptive acts as well.”
Consumers should make informed decisions about where to donate their hard-earned dollars. Do not be pressured to give before you find out about the charity that is asking for your donation. Call the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Registration at 624-8603, or go on-line at http://www.pfr.maine.gov/almsonline/almsquery/SearchCompany.aspx to see if the charity and its professional fundraiser are registered. Find out about the organization’s purpose, how it uses its donations, and what percentage of every dollar donated will go to the charity. The law cannot limit the percentage that a professional fundraiser can receive from money raised, but you can choose to give to a charity that receives and uses more of the donations raised on its charitable mission.
The matter was a joint effort between the state and the FTC. Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Silsby handled the matter for the State of Maine.