In a rare turn of events, the Federal Trade Commission, in conjunction with lawyers from each of the 50 states, has filed charges against four cancer charities for allegedly scamming donors for $187 million.
The charities in question are the Cancer Fund of America, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, the Breast Cancer Society, and Cancer Support Services.
The lawsuit also targets the directors and runners of the operations as well as business associates.
The supposed charities “operated as personal freedoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation," AOL reports.
The nepotism is in reference to instances like the Breast Cancer Society, where James Reynolds Jr. employed his wife to be the public relations manager. He also hired his two sisters-in-law, his wife's son, her mother, and her nephew.
The government’s complaint also asserts that the charities told people that they were directly supporting children and adult with various forms of cancer.
“These were lies,” the complaint reads.
According to Jessica Rich, Chief of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, the organizations spent roughly 97 percent of the donations they received on personal uses. Only about 3 percent ever made its way to help cancer treatment.
“Donated funds were used 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 reads.
“Most of what we are doing is bringing actions against fraud,” Rich said. “And this is as about as bad as it gets: taking money away from cancer victims.”
Two of the charities — the Breast Cancer Society and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America — have since announced that they will take plea deals and dissolve their operations.
Reynolds Jr. faces $60 million in fines and Rose Perkins of the Children’s Cancer Fund of America faces around $30 million.
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