Charities that claimed $187 million in donations were helping patients fight cancer but which investigators say were actually spent on vacations, concerts and other luxurious perks are now facing federal charges in one of the biggest charity fraud cases ever filed.
The Federal Trade Commission filed the complaint against the Cancer Fund of America, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, The Breast Cancer Society and Cancer Support Services, along with several of those organizations’ executives. Numerous other law enforcement groups also filed charges in the case, including in South Carolina.
South Carolina’s Secretary of State Mark Hammond was in Washington at the press conference where the charges were announced Tuesday. He urged the public to be vigilant when giving to charity. “Three of these organizations in the past in South Carolina have been put on notice, so they have been called out.”
Hammond said the investigation into these charities in South Carolina was a big one. “This was such a massive undertaking and there were so many moving parts and so much work that had to be done to be able to bring this action.”
The complaint charges that the charities called, mailed and passed out materials through the Combined Federal Campaign — which collects donations from federal workers or nonprofit groups — based on the premise that they help cancer patients in a variety of ways. That included supposedly getting patients to chemotherapy treatments and providing them with pain medication and hospice care.
But the FTC claims, in reality, the organizations were used to provide high-paying jobs for family members and friends, while donations went toward plush trips, outings, and college fees. Professional fundraisers who were brought on board often got 85% or more for each contribution.
The Secretary of State’s Office said litigation is moving forward against Cancer Fund of America, Inc. (CFA) and Cancer Support Services Inc. (CSS), president James Reynolds, Sr.
“Some charities use donations to send children with cancer to Disney World,” Hammond said. “In this case, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America used donations to send themselves to Disney World.”
The Children’s Cancer Fund of America and its president and executive director, Rose Perkins, along with The Breast Cancer Society and its executive director, James Reynolds II, and Cancer Support Services’ chief financial officer, Kyle Effler, have agreed to settle the charges that they are facing.