Denver, Colorado – In a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charitable solicitors claiming to help police, firefighters, and veterans, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher and Attorney General John Suthers joined the Federal Trade Commission and other law enforcers in 48 states and the District of Columbia today to announce “Operation False Charity.”
“Scam artists are extremely adept at exploiting current events and charitable facades to steal from Colorado’s hardworking families,” Suthers said. “It is especially troubling when these criminals exploit the public’s regard for police, firefighters and veterans to commit fraud. My office is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting any criminal that uses these tactics to deceive and steal from Coloradans.”
The FTC, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, Attorney General John Suthers and other enforcers announced 61 law enforcement actions against fundraising companies, nonprofits and individuals. Additionally, Buescher and Suthers will be part of a multi-state settlement with Community Support, Inc. The settlement will enjoin misrepresentations made in the course of telephone solicitations and require disclosures that will make it clearer that the caller is a paid solicitor, and what percentage of a donation will actually go the charity. Community Support, Inc. is a paid solicitor who has solicited in Colorado on behalf of more than a dozen police, firefighters, and veterans groups over the past few years, and nationwide has contracted with at least 35 such charities. A multi-state investigation leading to the settlement had revealed a disturbing pattern of Community Support, Inc. apparently violating state law over a period of several years.
In addition, the FTC and state agencies released new educational materials that will help consumers recognize and avoid charitable solicitation fraud. The Secretary of State has posted links to this material on the Charities and Fundraisers section of his Web site.
“Especially during these difficult economic times, when demand for services from charities is way up and contributions are down, the fleecing of many generous contributors by these bad actors robs legitimate charities of valuable and much-needed resources,” Buescher said. “We want Coloradans to maximize the value of their donations.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office maintains an online, searchable database, which tracks the revenue and expenses and other valuable information about charities soliciting in the state. Potential donors can review the database to ascertain how much of their donation would go specifically to meeting the charity’s stated purpose. They can also compare a charity’s performance to industry standards established by such charity watchdogs as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, the American Institute of Philanthropy, Charity Navigator, Ministry Watch, and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
“I would encourage all Coloradans to review my office’s database of charities and fundraisers and consult the wise giving tips and other educational materials posted on the web site prior to making a giving decision,” Buescher said.
Tips include asking solicitors or charities for their registration numbers and that donors should only contribute via check.
For more information please visit, www.checkthecharity.com.