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503-378-6002 or Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced legal action in six charitable fundraising cases as part of a joint law enforcement campaign with the Federal Trade Commission.
"Fraudulent and misleading solicitations deceive individuals and businesses and deprive reputable charities of much-needed contributions," Myers said. "We welcome this opportunity to remind Oregonians to investigate charities thoroughly before agreeing to contribute."
Myers filed a complaint in Multnomah County Circuit Court against the Association for Disabled Firefighters, Inc. ("ADF") of Santa Ana, California. According to the complaint ADF misrepresented the extent to which donors' contributions are used to provide financial assistance to disabled firefighters and their families and other groups. The complaint alleges that, out of more than $4.4 million in nationwide contributions ADF and its predecessor corporation received since 1999, less than one percent were used to provide financial assistance to firefighters or other groups. This is the first complaint the Oregon Attorney General has filed against a charity for misleading donors about its use of funds following the Supreme Court's decision in Madigan vs. Telemarketing Associates earlier this month. That decision affirmed states' efforts to target fraudulent fundraising by holding that the First Amendment does not shield organizations from liability for misleading charitable solicitations.
Myers also announced successful resolution of five enforcement actions.
The FTC announced five nation-wide fundraising fraud cases in this major effort, which it dubbed "Operation Phoney Philanthropy." Four of these federal actions involved deceptive badge-related fundraising in which telemarketers misrepresented affiliation with local police or firefighting agencies. The fifth case, directed at businesses, claimed affiliation with local hospitals to sell activity books for sick children.
According to the FTC and the Oregon Dept. of Justice, consumers who hear such promises of local benefit or particular program support, especially in telephone solicitations, should take the time to verify the claims. Ask the solicitor how much of the donation will go to support the described programs. Call the local police or other named groups to ensure that they will benefit from the donation. Check up on the charity at:
www.doj.state.or.us, www.guidestar.org, or www.give.org
and report any deceptive solicitations to the Oregon Dept. of Justice Charitable Activities Section in Portland at (503) 229-5725.
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