The Federal Trade Commission, in a joint effort with attorneys general of all 50 states, have announced that a group of charities, purportedly started to help cancer survivors, are fraudulent. The Cancer Fund for America, the Breast Cancer Society, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and Cancer Support Services are alleged to have defrauded donors of $187 million between 2008 and 2012.
The charities are all run by a single extended family. James Reynolds Sr., his son, and his ex-wife run all four charities between them, and over the years have used approximately 3% of the money they’ve raised to actually help cancer patients. The other 97% went directly to the family, and was spent on a variety of personal items, such as college tuition, dating website subscriptions, concert tickets, and cruises.
According to CNN, who investigated the charities in 2013 and 2014, the charities claimed to donate millions of dollars worth of goods to cancer patients overseas. Following up on supposed shipments to Guatemala, CNN could find no evidence that any such good were ever sent.
The organizations have refused to issue statements, even going so far as to state, on the Breast Cancer Society website, that they will not engage in a public legal battle, as it does not serve the people they purport to help. That group and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America are being dissolved, but the others remain. The government is seeking around $90 million in fines, but according to the FTC, few of the assets remain, and they would be lucky to recover about $1 million.
That such a small amount of the money stolen from charitable people can be reclaimed might be the worst part of the whole case. To take advantage of people in the name of charity is despicable, and while the case is not resolved yet, the evidence against these “charities” is quite strong. Hopefully, the FTC will be able to reclaim some of these assets and maybe that money can be put to good use.