We all want to give our time and money to great causes - but what if your favorite charity is pocketing your money to fund the CEO's private planes, concert tickets, and luxury cruises?
This week, the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement groups from all 50 states exposed four cancer charities that scammed thousands of donors over four years, taking a staggering $187 million from 2008 to 2012 - and spending virtually none of that on cancer patients.
The four cancer charities, all run by the fame family, spent 97 percent of their donations on themselves, says Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Only the remaining 3 percent went to the actual purpose of their organizations: to help cancer patients.
Holding lavish private fundraisers that included promises like "one hundred percent of our proceeds go to hospice care", CEOs and staff pocketed almost all of the proceeds. The charities' promises of supporting breast cancer patients and children with cancer through chemotherapy and hospice care, the government report says, "were lies".
To cover up their scam on their tax returns, they reported accepting hundreds of millions of dollars of "gifts in kind", which they said would be shipped to cancer patients around the world. They instead sent discontinued, unrelated, and overstocked merchandise, like sample-size soaps and disposable plates, to children cancer patients, in order make it seem like they were donating more than they actually were.
All four of the charities - the Breast Cancer Society, Children's Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and Cancer Fund of America - and their presidents can pay federal settlements proposed by the FTC, some totaling upwards of $65 million.
Former Breast Cancer Society president James Reynolds II downplayed the report on the organization's website, but the facts are clear: these four "charities" lied to their donors and, worst of all, bankrolled their own greediness while ignoring the cancer patients they promised to help.
The next time you donate, check out the FTC's guide to potential charity scams to make sure your money is going to people in need - not into the pocket of a rich CEO.
And, as always, trust the Scam Awareness Alliance to make sure your money is going to the right place!