FTC Flags Four Cancer Charities as Scams

The Federal Trade Commission has taken the unusual step of fining four non-profit cancer charities, each of them run by different members of the same family. The FTC says that the family has bilked contributors who thought they were helping cancer patients out of nearly $200 million in donations.

In a rare joint action with attorneys general for each of the 50 states, the Federal Trade Commission says four cancer charities run by extended members of the same family conned donors out of $187 million from 2008 through 2012 and spent almost nothing to help actual cancer patients.

Each of the charities charged were the subject of extensive reporting by CNN in 2013. And in each instance, none of the four charities would comment. We were ordered out of the building at the Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and were the object of an obscene gesture by the CEO of The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona.

The Cancer Fund of America is run by James Reynolds Sr. His son James Reynolds Jr. is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society. Another charity, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, is run by Rose Perkins, the ex-wife of the elder James Reynolds. He’s also the CEO of the fourth charity, Cancer Support Services.

The government says the charities claimed to provide direct support for cancer patients, breast cancer patients and children with cancer.

“These were lies,” the government’s complaint says.

Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says that in all, the charities spent about 97% of donations they received either on private fundraisers or on themselves. Only 3%, she says, went to help actual cancer patients.

The fines add up to about $90 million, but it’s likely that the government will recover little of it. But the charities are closing down, so at least people won’t be scammed by them anymore. This is why Foundation Beyond Belief spends so much time and effort vetting potential beneficiaries. We stick with smaller charities, ones that will be helped significantly by the $10,000 or so in funding they’re going to receive, and we have strict standards that they must comply with to be eligible.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Trebuchet

    These clowns and their ilk call all the time. I’ve taken to asking the callers to give me a minute to look them up on the web. They hang up.

  • marcus

    Children’s Cancer Fund snookered me out of $20. I’ll be following Trebuchet’s advice in the future.

  • raven

    FWIW, this was one of the largest charity fraud cases ever. And they were all…Mormons.

    Salt Lake City Tribune:

    James T. Reynolds Sr. attended Brigham Young University. His son […] attended BYU-Idaho.

    According to the complaint, “an inter-related group of their family members, friends, and fellow church members have worked as employees and served as board members of the corporate defendants.”

    Salt Lake City used to be one of the fraud and scam centers of the USA. The US Justice Department had to open an office there just to keep up with them.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    It’s maddening that these people are not in prison.

  • otrame

    They should be in prison and every single dime they possess should be turned over to a real cancer charity. Every single damned dime. And everything they have donated to the damned church should be included.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    I hate that the gummint is fining those people. They should just put out a bounty on them.

  • lorn

    Charities are a common scam for wealthy folks. They are frequently used as a tax deductible guaranteed income, welfare, for party faithful.

    in example:

    In a profile of Jeanette Rubio [wife of Republican candidate Marko Rubio] we reported how the charity she works for paid her at least $54,000 in 2013.

    But another figure stands out: $250.

    That’s how much the Braman Family 2011 Charitable Foundation gave out that year, the most recent year for which form 990s are available. The charity reported assets worth more than $9 million, and its lone donation went to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York.

    From:

    http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/norman-braman-charity-marco-rubios-wife-works-for-wasnt-very-giving-in-2013/2230121