Cancer charities allegedly misused $187 million in donations, bought luxury cruises and cars

The U.S. government has charged four cancer charities with misusing more than $US187 million in donations, with two agreeing to be dissolved and two fighting the allegations, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.

The FTC, 50 states and the District of Columbia charged the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services Inc., the Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society Inc. with collecting millions of dollars in donations but doing little to help patients.

The Children’s Cancer Fund of America and Breast Cancer Society Inc. settled with the government and agreed to shut down. Three officials from the organisations also settled and agreed to be banned from charitable fundraising.

The Cancer Fund of America opted to fight the government in court, as did the related Cancer Support Services organisation and its president, James Reynolds Sr.

Cancer Fund of America headquarters in TennesseeWBIROne of the accused charities, Cancer Fund of America, based in Tennessee

According to the federal court complaint, the defendants used the organisations for lucrative employment for family members and friends, and spent consumer donations on cars, trips, luxury cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting event and concert tickets, and dating site memberships. They hired professional fundraisers who often received 85 per cent or more of every donation.

The Center for Investigative Reporting put the Cancer Fund of America second on its America’s Worst Charities list. Based on data from December, it said the group raised $US86.8 million for charity but gave just 1 per cent of that to cancer patients.

The Children’s Cancer Fund of America ranked No. 9.

Here is a report on the complaint from local TV station, WBIR:

 

 

The FTC said in its complaint that the organisations portrayed themselves as legitimate charities to raise money from telemarketing calls and from the Combined Federal Campaign, which collects from U.S. government employees.

Instead, the complaint said, the groups “operated as personal fiefdoms characterised by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation, with none of the financial and governance controls that any bona fide charity would have adopted.”

Professional fundraisers that they hired sometimes kept 85 per cent of what they collected, the FTC said.

The agency said the organisations inflated their revenues to hide their misuse of donations.

The FTC said it had proposed judgments of $US65 million against the Breast Cancer Society and $US30 million against the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, which is what they collected from 2008 to 2012.

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