Executives of four cancer charities spent more than $187 million from donors in all 50 states on personal expenses, including cruises, lingerie, vehicles, tickets to sporting events and even college tuition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Tuesday.
Although donors were told that their money would go towards specific health services for cancer patients, such as providing pain medication, hospice care, and transportation to chemo appointments, the FTC stated that over 97 percent of the funds donated were used for other purposes.
“The defendants took in millions of dollars in donations meant to help cancer patients, but spent it on themselves and their fundraisers,” said Jessica Rich, director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Attorneys general from every state and the District of Columbia were also involved in what the FTC said was one of the largest civil actions ever taken against fraudulent charities.
According to the complaint filed by the FTC in U.S. District Court in Arizona, James T. Reynolds, Sr., founder and president of the Cancer Fund of America (CFA), in Knoxville, Tennessee, established and operated the four charities solely to provide six- figure salaries for his family and friends.