The Federal Trade Commission has slapped a court action against four cancer charities it alleged were fake and ran by members of the same family. It alleged the four charities scammed a total of $187 million from donors from 2008 through 2012 but spent the money on themselves and not on helping the needs of actual cancer patients.
The con charities were identified as Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society. They were listed as incorporated nonprofit organizations and enjoy tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.
The Associated Press said James Reynolds Sr. from Tennessee founded and controlled all the four fake charities. The FTC lawsuit filed Tuesday alleged Reynolds was the president of Cancer Fund of America since 1987, and Cancer Support Services. Rose Perkins, an ex-wife, was executive director of the Children’s Cancer Fund of America since 2005.
Reynolds’ son, identified as James Reynolds II, and executive director of the Breast Cancer Society, based on the complaint, started working in the family businesses at 16. He “learned the cancer business from his father.”
In their dealings, the charities asked for donations that will be then used to provide direct support for cancer patients, breast cancer patients and children with cancer. But Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said these “were lies.” She said of the amounts the fake charities were able to get, only 3 percent were used to help actual cancer patients. Majority, or 97 percent, of the donations were used on private fundraisers or even on the family members themselves.
The bulk of the donated amounts received went to “pay for vehicles, personal consumer goods, college tuition, gym memberships, Jet Ski outings, dating website subscriptions, luxury cruises, and tickets to concerts and professional sporting events,” the complaint says. The four charities allegedly used professional websites, direct mail and phone-drive solicitations to trick donors into donating, the FTC said.