BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has filed a federal lawsuit against four phony cancer charities and their operators, who allegedly scammed more than $187 million from consumers throughout the country.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona by Caldwell, 50 other attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission. It alleges that Cancer Fund of America, Children's Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and The Breast Cancer Society all lied about claims that consumers' donations would provide direct support to cancer patients.
"It is downright despicable for any organization to exploit the plight of cancer patients to line their own pockets," Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said. "Well-meaning consumers from across the country need the assurance that their money is going to worthwhile causes, not to greedy con artists. That's why I am glad to join in a cooperative effort with my state and federal colleagues to combat charity fraud."
According to the lawsuit, the defendants billed themselves as legitimate charities with nationwide programs providing direct support to cancer patients, including children with cancer and those with breast cancer. The defendants or their telemarketers often told donors that their contributions would be used to provide pain medication to children, transport patients to chemotherapy appointments, and/or pay for hospice care.
In reality, the overwhelming majority of consumers' contributions were wasted or misused, providing benefits for only the defendants, their families and friends, and professional fundraisers, who often received 85 percent or more of every donation, according to Caldwell.
"The sham charities spent more money on salaries than on the goods and services they provided to cancer patients," he stated in a news release. In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants spent donations on things like cruises, Jet Ski outings, concert tickets, and dating site memberships.
In conjunction with the lawsuit, Caldwell also announced settlements with five defendants, who have agreed to leave the charity business and stop fundraising. Those include Children's Cancer Fund, The Breast Cancer Society, Rose Perkins, James Reynolds II and Kyle Effler. Perkins, Reynolds Effler are all executives of the organizations. The settlements, which still must be approved by the Court, also reflect monetary judgments based on the amount consumers donated to the charities between 2008 and 2012.
Litigation against Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and James Reynolds, Sr. is proceeding.