New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is currently cracking down on some of the most unethical scams out there: fraudulent charities.
Just last week, the Coalition Against Breast Cancer was revealed to have swindled almost all of the money it earned from donations. The group will be ordered to pay restitution to the scam victims to the tune of $10 million in total donations acquired between 2005 and 2011.
It’s hard to believe that anyone would take advantage of humanitarian efforts to just to make a buck, but charity scams are sadly more common than you’d think. Just recently, the nation was hit with a wave of fake charities claiming to aid victims of the Boston Bombings.
Thankfully, lawmakers are paying more attention to fake charities and taking greater action to stop these unscrupulous operations.
$1.1 Million Donated in 2010, Only $632 Put Towards Cancer Prevention
Consumerist is reporting that from 2005-2011, the Coalition Against Breast Cancer masqueraded as a legitimate charity, soliciting donations from businesses and private donors towards breast cancer research and prevention.
Their associated fundraiser, Campaign Center, was an instrumental part of the scam and retained 85% of all the money garnered.
Although the CABC purported to direct their earnings towards a number of areas in cancer-related science and education, investigators discovered that only a tiny percentage of the money was used for that purpose.
In 2010 alone, CABC received $1.1 million in donations but only $632 was put towards purchasing mammograms, and real breast cancer charities received only 4% of the money.
Attorney General on Sham Charities: “No Business Operating in Our State”
New York authorities, including the Attorney General’s office, managed to obtain a court order to shut down the CABC and Campaign Center and will be pursuing more financial sanctions soon.
The organizations have already been ordered to pay out $1.55 million to the afflicted New Yorkers, and soon they will face the rest of their victims in court to deal with the remainder of the money donated in those seven years. That hearing is scheduled for May 20th.
Said the Attorney General in a ruling cited by Consumerist:
This important decision reaffirms my office’s determination to use the powers available under New York law to ensure honesty and integrity in the field of charitable fundraising, and to protect New Yorkers.
Schneiderman went on to deliver an indictment against this fake charity and other, similar illegal outfits:
Sham charities and professional fundraisers who line their pockets by tricking New Yorkers into thinking they are donating their hard earned money to fund breast cancer research and other charitable causes have no business operating in our state, and we will take action to shut them down.
Thanks to the diligent work of both lawmakers and eagle-eyed consumers, sham charities are continuing to have a more difficult time exploiting the good nature of donors.
In fact, the AG’s office released a statement last fall demanding that all charities be honest with supporters about where their money is going, from monetary donations to swag purchases like pink ribbons or yellow bracelets.
Protect Yourself from Charity Scams
It feels great to donate to a worthy cause, but always make sure to vet your chosen charity before forking over even a small slice of your paycheck.
Scambook recommends the following tips to avoid donating to a sham charity:
- Be sure to research the organization online — don’t just trust a tip from a Facebook friend
- Always ask for a record of any donations
- Be wary of transmitting funds online if the website URL doesn’t begin with
- Never send a donation via wire transfer services such as Western Union
- And most of all, trust your instincts. If you’ve never heard of a charity before and they seem sketchy, chances are your money isn’t being funneled into education or research
Have you ever fallen victim to a charity scam? What are your thoughts on scammers who attempt to capitalize on the misfortune of others? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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