In the Scam of the day of October 8, 2013 I told you about the start of the trial of John Donald Cody, a scam artist who was convicted on November 14, 2013 of operating a one hundred million dollar Navy veterans charity scam. Yesterday, Cody was sentenced to 28 years in prison and fined 6 million dollars. Cody was tried in Ohio, however, his scam stretched across the country with victims in 41 states. Among the victims of his scam were former president George W. Bush as well as former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani all of whom were scammed into giving money to the phony charity run by Cody that purported to provide funds for Navy veterans, but instead became just a bank account for Cody.
Charity scams are always with us, but they are particularly prominent during the holiday season when people are particularly charitably inclined. Many phony charities have names that sound legitimate and may even closely approximate the names of real, legitimate charities so you can never trust the name to tell you much. You should never give to a charity until you have checked it out to make sure that it is legitimate. A good place to do that is on the website http://www.charitynavigator.org where you can also find out how much of what the charity collects goes towards its charitable purposes and how much is spent on administrative salaries and costs of fund raising. Also, never make a charitable donation over the phone to a telemarketer who has called you. If you receive such a call, and you can get one even if you are on the federal Do-Not-Call list because charitable calls are exempted from the list, you can never be sure of to whom you are speaking so if you do want to give to a charity that appears to be calling you, contact the charity directly yourself either by phone or online to make sure that your donation is going to the right place.