- In a coordinated, nationwide effort, federal
and state consumer protection agencies today
launched a public education and enforcement
program to combat fraudulent charitable solicitors
claiming to help police, firefighters, and
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced
the launch of “Operation False Charity”
at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
have already seen here in New Jersey -- and
taken action against -- those who attempted
to defraud donors through false claims of
raising funds to help police officers, firefighters,
first aid personnel and veterans,” Attorney
General Anne Milgram said. “The FTC
and the states have now joined together to
alert the public to these scams and put these
con artists on notice that we will not tolerate
their deceptions and lies.”
In January, the Office of the Attorney General
though its Division of Consumer Affairs filed
suit against the “9/11 Rescue Workers
Foundation, Inc.” of Kinnelon, N.J.
after state investigators identified more
than $75,000 in illegal expenditures from
donated funds. The lawsuit seeks the return
of the funds illegally spent by the foundation’s
founder and president, Frederick Parisi, and
by Jean Street, Parisi’s mother and
former treasurer of the foundation. The state
is asking the court to allow the returned
funds to be used by legitimate charities that
serve public safety personnel and veterans.
The Division of Consumer Affairs revoked the
registration of the foundation in August,
2008, enjoined it from soliciting in New Jersey
and barred Parisi from acting as an officer
or director of any charitable organization
operating in the state.
Parisi claimed the “9/11 Rescue Workers
Foundation, Inc.” solicited donations
to aid rescue workers who suffered health
problems after responding to Ground Zero.
State investigators identified 87 transactions
where Parisi or Street signed checks or approved
withdrawals that served no apparent charitable
purposes. The transactions included checks
for $27,000 and $20,000 that Street made out
to herself, checks to pay private school tuition
and other expenses for Parisi’s children
and numerous payments to “cash.”
will continue to take action against those
who attempt to enrich themselves under the
guise of claiming to help our public safety
personnel and veterans,” said Consumer
Affairs Director David Szuchman. “Our
Charitable Registration Unit is a resource
that I encourage consumers to turn to for
information about any organization that is
asking them for donations.”
Charitable organizations are required to register
annually and also submit financial disclosure
information to the state. Charities that hire
paid fund raisers to solicit donations also
must report this information.
state regulations, paid fund raisers must
identity themselves and the charitable organization
they are working for when soliciting. Every
printed solicitation and written confirmation
or receipt for a donation must include the
FILED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CONCERNING
THIS CHARITABLE SOLICITATION AND THE PERCENTAGE
OF CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED BY THE CHARITY DURING
THE LAST REPORTING PERIOD THAT WERE DEDICATED
TO THE CHARITABLE PURPOSE MAY BE OBTAINED
FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF
NEW JERSEY BY CALLING 973-504-6215
AND IS AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET AT www.nj.gov/oag/ca/charity/chardir.htm.
REGISTRATION WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL DOES
NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT.”
Szuchman noted financial information submitted
by two veterans organizations, Amvets and
the Vietnam Veterans Fund, shows that the
organizations respectively paid 87% and 80%
of all donated monies to the professional
fund raisers who solicit donations. Amvets
received 13% of all donated monies while the
Vietnam Veterans Fund received 20% of donated
state cannot set the minimum level or percentage
of funding that an organization must receive
from donations or cap the amount that a charitable
organization pays the fund raiser it hires.
Charitable Giving - Consumer Education
The FTC today issued a new consumer alert
providing tips about charities that solicit
donations on behalf of veterans and military
families. The alert can be found on the agency’s
Web site, at www.ftc.gov/charityfraud.
The new alert, “Supporting the Troops:
When Charities Solicit Donations on Behalf
of Vets and Military Families,” offers
the following tips to help consumers ensure
that their donations go to a legitimate charity.
Many of these tips apply to other charitable
giving as well.
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.
to charities with a track record and a history.
Charities that spring up overnight may disappear
just as quickly.
giving tips, as well as the searchable database
for the 23,000 charitable organizations registered
to solicit donations in New Jersey, can be
found at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/ocp/charities.htm.