A lawsuit has been filed against four so-called cancer charities in what officials call one of the largest charity fraud cases ever.
Missouri is one of the states that filled a lawsuit against four sham cancer charities and their operators for scamming more than $187-million in donations from people throughout the country. The defendants spent donated money on personal items, including cars, college tuition, cruises to the Caribbean, jet-ski outings, concert tickets, and subscriptions to dating websites.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division Spokesman Joe Bindeutel said those charities have been shut down.
“Missourians were impacted and that’s why we took a leadership role in this effort and put the kind of time and effort it took to get the case to this point,” said Bindeutel. “We have confirmed that approximately $3-million came from folks in Missouri, who thought they were giving to a legitimate charity, and obviously were not.”
Bindeutel said the chief perpetrator had his wife and son involved with the affiliated charities.
“It was nepotism at its worst,” said Bindeutel. “They set themselves up with different companies, they ran a very similar scam, they used names that were attractive and similar to very legitimate companies, they very aggressively tele-marketed these charities, and approximately 97-percent of the money went to their lifestyle rather than any charitable purpose.”
Three of the individual defendants have reached settlement agreements, but no one has received jail time. The scammers will be required to pay back a portion of what they took because of limited ability to pay. Litigation will proceed against the chief perpetrator, James Reynolds, Sr, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
“We’re going to do the very best we can to collect as much money as we can,” said Bindeutel. “We will be aggressively trying to find any and all assets of these principal entities that were over paid for such an extended period of time and convert that into resources that can go to the true charitable purpose that the funds were intended for.”