A string of cancer charities — the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, the Breast Cancer Society and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America — have turned out to be manipulative frauds run by a family of con artists. The money they raised for cancer patients actually went to pay for personal luxuries instead — Disney World trips, jet ski outings, new cars, college tuition and luxury travel.
“This is as about as bad as it can get: taking money away from cancer victims,” said Jessica Rich, chief of the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection. The FTC was joined by the attorney general and law enforcement officials from all 50 states in the case against the fake cancer charities.
Their benevolence doesn’t end there. The con artists also gave junk food and bad drugs to cancer patients. Some children were given out-of-date antibiotics that made their condition worse. One federal complaint revealed that the charities gave breast cancer patients certain drugs that “are not typically used for the treatment of breast cancer and, in some instances, are not recommended for use by persons who have had cancer.”
Only 3 percent of donations went to cancer patients
All in all, the con artists raised $187 million under false pretenses. Their charities promised that they were helping people with cancer, but only 3 percent of what they took from donors actually went to help cancer patients.The things they did give to cancer patients included cheap “direct patient aid,” including adult diapers, sample-size toiletries and Little Debbie snack cakes.
According to company credit card reports, the con artists wasted good donation money on things like cell phone apps, iTunes purchases, dating website subscriptions, movies, sporting events and meals at Hooters.
Preying on the sympathies of potential donors, the charities used phrases like, “We help cancer patients anywhere in the United States. Men, women, and children with over 240 types of cancer.” To manipulate donors, they used wording like “on the forefront for the fight against cancer.” To add fuel to the fire, the charities claimed millions in tax deductions for donated items that didn’t exist at all.