Recently Ian Hosang, of Staten Island, New York was charged with sixteen criminal counts related to allegedly forming 23 fraudulent charities and collecting at least $152,000 in donations that the Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Hosang kept for himself and never used for any charitable purposes. Many of the phony charities he is accused of creating included the words “American Cancer Society” or “United Way” and added other language to mislead potential donors into thinking they were donating to established, legitimate charities. One of the charities he created was the “American Cancer Society for Children” which had no relation to the legitimate American Cancer Society. In fact, none of his charities were connected in any way with the legitimate American Cancer Society or United Way.
Scammers often set up charities with names that are very similar to real charities to trick people into making contributions.
So how can you protect yourself?
Always check out the legitimacy of a charity before making a contribution. A good place to find out if a charity is real or merely has a name that sounds legitimate is http://www.charitynavigator.org. This terrific website will not only let you know if the charity is a scam or not, but will also provide you with important information as to how much of the charity’s collected donations actually are applied to its charitable works and how much goes to administrative fees and salaries. As a rule of thumb, if a charity spends more than 25% of its donations on salaries and administrative costs, you may wish to consider giving to a different charity.
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