Operation False Charity: Governments crack down on fraud

Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Federal Trade Commission and 49 states including Virginia are working to keep you from being ripped off by illegitimate charities.

The Federal Trade Commission has launched an all out blitz on non-profits or fake non-profits going after your money.

A total of 76 law enforcements actions have been taken against fraudulent solicitors including five here in Virginia.

"There are a lot of groups out there that either claim to assist veterans, fire fighters, policemen--- in fact, little or no money actually ultimately reaches the intended recipients," said Mike Wright, Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs.

After a 3-year investigation, four men in Stafford County went to jail for being one of those groups... They claimed to work on behalf of the National Organization of Deputy Sheriffs doing phone and door to door solicitations.

"They raised almost $600,000 dollars and only spent about $9,000 dollars on any charitable purpose," said Wright.

Larry Moorman was convicted of felony conspiracy to commit fraud and soliciting under false pretenses... Along with 15 state misdemeanors.

He got four and half years in jail.

Bryan Josemans pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and four misdemeanors and served a six month sentence and is barred from charitable solicitation.

Thomas Gardiner pled guilty to felony racketeering, and three charitable solicitation fraud charges.

He served 10 months and can no longer solicit.

And Brandon Childers was convicted of six violations and served six months in jail.

"Certainly if we can eliminate the fraudulent charities, that means that the public has got a better chance of their funds actually going to a place that is really gonna spend them the way the donor wants the funds spent," said Wright.

And that's the goal of "operation false charity"... To crackdown on non-profits and telemarketers who make deceptive claims.

The effort also attempts to better educate the public about giving. The experts say before you write the check, you have to check charities out.

"Any organization soliciting within the Commonwealth of Virginia is required to be filed with our office," said Wright.

The state office of consumer affairs can then verify the filers tax status and explain what happening with your donation, because all of it may not be helping your cause.

"They can be doing this legally, but in fact they may only spend 10 cents or 20 cents out of your hard earned dollar on actually helping somebody. That's why you've gotta do your research," said Wright.

Finally, Wright says don't give cash and don't succumb to the "right now" plea.

Legit organizations will take your money next week... Or next month. They don't have to have it right now.

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