Brown Sues 53 Individuals, 17 Telemarketers and 12 Charities that Exploited Donors’ Desire to Help Cops, Firefighters and Veterans
Los Angeles – As part of a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charities, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. is filing today eight lawsuits against 53 individuals, 17 telemarketers and 12 charities that "shamelessly exploited" people’s generosity and squandered millions of dollars of donations intended to help police, firefighters and veterans.
Brown’s suits are intended to permanently stop the charities’ deceptive practices and require the repayment of all funds raised under false pretenses. Brown is seeking involuntary dissolution of eight of the charities.
"These individuals shamelessly exploited the goodwill of decent citizens trying to help police, firefighters and veterans," Brown said. "In point of fact, a shockingly small portion of donations went to those in need, while millions went to pay for aggressive telemarketing and bloated overhead – and in one case – to purchase a 30-foot sailboat."
Brown filed these suits in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and 48 other states as part of a nationwide sweep called "Operation False Charity."
In California, just as in the other participating states, the so-called charities raised millions of dollars based on false claims that donors’ contributions would benefit police, firefighters and veterans organizations. But in reality, these charities rarely benefit public safety personnel. And, in most cases, 85 percent to 90 percent of donations are used to pay the fees of for-profit telemarketing firms.
Last year, Brown launched an investigation into 12 of the worst offenders, resulting in the eight cases filed today in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and San Mateo counties. It is estimated that since 2005, hundreds of thousands of Californians have been deceived by the solicitation campaigns these charities and their fundraisers have conducted.
Brown is filing three suits against 5 charities and their fundraisers in Los Angeles County Superior Court:
- Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program, based in Los Angeles.
- California Police Youth Charities, based in Sacramento.
- American Association of Police Officers, Police Protective Fund, Inc. and Junior Police Academy
all of which are based in Los Angeles and are operated by the same directors.
Brown is filing three suits against 5 charities and their fundraisers in Orange County Superior Court:
- Association for Firefighters and Paramedics, based in Santa Ana.
- Association for Police and Sheriffs, Inc., based in Fullerton.
- Coalition of Police and Sheriffs, Disabled Firefighters Fund, and American Veterans Relief Foundation
all of which are based in Santa Ana and are operated by the same staff.
Brown is filing one suit against a charity and its fundraiser in San Mateo County Superior Court:
- Homeless and Disabled Veterans Corporation, based in Washington D.C.
Brown is filing one suit against a charity and its fundraisers in San Bernardino County Superior Court:
- California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, based in San Bernardino.
The remainder of the press release including details of each case can be found on the Attorney General’s website.
The Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to potential donors to help them avoid being the victims of charity fraud:
– If you receive an unsolicited call asking for a donation, it is most likely from a paid telemarketer who may keep a substantial part of your donation as payment of fundraising fees.
– Recognize that the words ‘veterans’ or ‘military families’ in an organization’s name don’t necessarily mean that veterans or the families of active-duty personnel will benefit from your donation.
– Donate to charities with a track record and a history. Charities that spring up overnight may disappear just as quickly.
– If you have any doubt about whether you have made a pledge or a contribution, check your records. If you don=t remember making the donation or pledge, resist the pressure to give.
– Check out an organization before donating. Some phony charities use names, seals and logos that look or sound like those of respected, well-established organizations.
– Ask the soliciting charity or the paid fundraiser what percentage of your donation will go towards fundraising expenses and what percentage will go towards the charity’s charitable purpose.
– Do not send or give cash donations. For security and tax record purposes, it is best to pay by check made payable to the charity.
– Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution.
– Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. You never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.