Bad charities face fraud charges. How do you pick a good one?

(WTNH)– Four cancer charities are accused of lying about where the money is going. Your money, donated in good faith is being used to cover lavish personal spending.

Those four charities were all operated by one family. Now a big investigation says they were all frauds. For every dollar you donated, only three cents went where it was supposed to. So we sat down with the Better Business Bureau to find out how you can check out a charity before you write them a check.

“These charities had legitimate sounding names,” said Howard Schwartz of the Better Business Bureau. “Unfortunately this puts the onus on us to be looking out for lookalike charity names because this is so prevalent.”

Here are the names of those charities:

  • THE CANCER FUND OF AMERICA
  • THE BREAST CANCER SOCIETY
  • THE CHILDREN’S CANCER FUND
  • CANCER SUPPORT SERVICES.

The Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General from all 50 states say money raised for cancer patients mostly benefitted just the family running the charities.

“In some instances instead of providing cancer patients with much needed support, donors’ money went to financing the personal lifestyles of those operating the charities,” explained Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “Including cars, luxury cruises, and tickets to concerts and sporting events.”

“This will not be the last time charities have been hit,” said Schwartz. “Far from it. In fact every time there’s a disaster, be it manmade or natural, we see fake charities popping up all over the place.”

He says these so-called cancer charities used high pressure tactics over the phone and through the mail to bilk donors out of a total of $187 million in donations.

“If you feel that somebody is pressuring you on the telephone or by mail, or they’re asking you to give right away, those are big red flags and you should stay away from them,” Schwartz said.

The Better Business Bureau has 20 different criteria for evaluating charities on its website http://www.give.org/

Other websites also rate charities. Websites like CharityWatch and Charity Navigator.

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