Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kansas Attorney General Schmidt sues ‘cancer charities ’ alleging fraud

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced that his office has filed a federal lawsuit against four “cancer charities” and their operators, who allegedly scammed more than $187 million from consumers across the country.

Schmidt, along with law enforcement partners from every state in the nation, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission, filed the lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The complaint alleges that the defendants, including Cancer Fund of America, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and the Breast Cancer Society, portrayed themselves to donors as legitimate charities with nationwide programs whose primary purposes were to provide direct support to cancer patients, children with cancer, and breast cancer patients in the United States.

Specifically, these entities through their telemarketers told donors that contributions would be used to provide pain medication to children suffering from cancer, transport cancer patients to chemotherapy appointments, and/or pay for hospice care for cancer patients.

The complaint alleges this was a sham and the defendants did not operate programs that provided these services.

“There are many wonderful organizations that do great work to support cancer patients and work toward finding a cure,” Schmidt said. “Unfortunately, too often we see con artists take advantage by setting up fake charities to scam generous donors out of money that they think is going to a good cause.”

Children’s Cancer Fund of America, the Breast Cancer Society, and three private individual have agreed to settle the charges against them. Terms of the settlements include the dissolution and liquidation of the Children’s Cancer Fund and Breast Cancer Society and the individual defendants associated with these organizations are banned from fundraising and operating charities. Litigation will continue against Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and James Reynolds, Sr., Executive Director of CFA and Interim President of CSS.

Schmidt urged Kansans to use caution when donating to charities. Con artists often use names similar to those of well-known charities and popular charitable causes in efforts to sound legitimate. Schmidt’s office offered the following tips to keep in mind when making charitable contributions:
  • Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is actually used for charitable purposes and how much will end up in the hands of the professional fundraiser.
  • Be careful with telemarketers requesting contributions ‑ oftentimes the telemarketer keeps a substantial portion of the donation.
  • Do not be pressured into making a contribution or pledge.
  • Do not feel obligated to send a donation to charities that send token gifts such as key chains, greeting cards, mailing labels, etc.
  • Make certain the charitable organization actually serves the need it claims to serve.
  • Ask for financial statements of the organization to determine who will benefit from the donations.
  • Make a personal giving plan and support well established charities on your terms, not in response to marketing solicitations.
More information on staying safe from scams is available on the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.