Wise Giving Wednesday: New York Man Indicted for Fraudulent Appeals

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calendar icon Jul 06, 2022


A man from Staten Island, New York was recently indicted by the New York Attorney General’s office “…with grand larceny and related charges for allegedly forming 23 fraudulent charitable entities and collecting at least $152,000 in donations that were never put to any charitable purpose. Many of the charities included the words ‘American Cancer Society’ or ‘United Way’ with added qualifying language to allegedly mislead potential donors.”  These entities had no affiliation with these well-known charitable organizations. In addition, as noted in a July 3rd front page article in The New York Times, this individual allegedly applied for and received 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

As these circumstances underscore the need for donors to take active measures to avoid being taken, BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips:

  • Watch out for cases of mistaken identity. Look at the name carefully. The group soliciting you may not be the one you have in mind.
  • Visit the charity’s website. Go directly to the charity’s website to help identify the organization, verify its physical address, and find out more about its activities, finances, and accomplishments. If the charity name implies or states it is a local affiliate of a larger organization, visit the website of the national office of that entity to confirm its affiliation.  
  • Be wary of excessive pressure to donate. Watch out for appeals that demand an on-the-spot gift decision. This might be a ruse to get you to contribute before you find out more about the group.
  • Is the charity registered with government agencies? About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require soliciting charities to register with a state government agency such as the office of the Attorney General or Secretary of State. In Canada, visit the charity registration page at the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Visit Give.org.  Visit the charity reports on Give.org and at your BBB to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to revisit a video featuring Lisa Gurwitch, President and CEO of Delivering Good, a BBB Accredited Charity that provides donated essential items such as clothing, books, home goods and toys to serve needy children, families and individuals in all 50 states.

Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week’s Heart of Giving Podcast, BBB WGA interviews Dominic Kalms, the CEO and Co-Founder of B Generous, a platform that helps individuals donate to charitable organizations by enabling them to pay over time without any interest or fees. 

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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