TOPEKA, Kansas – Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Wednesday that two fraudulent “cancer charities” and their leader who scammed more than $75 million from consumers across the country have been permanently banned from doing charitable business as a result of a settlement reached.
Schmidt, along with law enforcement partners from every state in the nation, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission, filed a lawsuit in May 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The complaint alleged 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 alleged this was a sham and the defendants did not operate programs that provided these services.
Wednesday’s settlement dissolves the remaining two organizations, the Cancer Fund of America Inc. and Cancer Support Services Inc., and permanently bans their president from operating a charitable organization or engaging in any type of charity fundraising in the future. The other organizations and individuals involved in the lawsuit, including Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, agreed to settle the charges against them in 2015.
Most of the funds donated to the scam charities were spent and cannot be recovered. Any funds actually recovered from the defendants will be redirected to legitimate cancer charities and to cover litigation costs.
“There are many charitable organizations who are providing important services that support cancer patients and work toward finding a cure,” Schmidt said. “Unfortunately, we frequently 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.”
Schmidt urged Kansans to do their homework 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.