According to the Federal Trade Commission, four cancer charities collected a combined $187 million between 2008 and 2012 -- and spent almost none of the money on cancer patients. All the charities in question -- the Cancer Fund of America, Breast Cancer Society, Children's Cancer Fund of America and Cancer Support Services -- are controlled by members of the Reynolds family.
James Reynolds Sr. runs the Cancer Fund of America and Cancer Support Services while his ex-wife Rose Perkins runs the Children's Cancer Fund of America. According to the government complaint, the charities lied about providing direct support to people suffering from cancer. CNN reported that two charities, the Children's Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, will be dissolved following the complaint.
James Reynolds Jr. faces a judgment that will be suspended only if he pays $75,000. The judgment against Perkins is being suspended because she is incapable of making the repayment, authorities said.
Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the charities spent the lion’s share of donations either on themselves or on private fundraisers. Only 3 percent was used for helping cancer patients.
The rest of the amount was often used in extravagant ways. The New York Times reported that some donations were spent on Victoria’s Secret lingerie, meals at Hooters restaurants and subscriptions to dating websites. Money also was spent on couples cruises to the Caribbean and Jet Ski joy rides.
The federal complaint calls the cancer organizations “sham charities.” Mark Hammond, South Carolina's secretary of state, said some charities sent juvenile cancer patients to Walt Disney World in Florida. However, he added that staff from Children’s Cancer Fund of America also sent themselves to Disney World using donation money.
The homepage of the official website of the Breast Cancer Society is now replaced with a message from James T. Reynolds II. The message acknowledges that cancer patients need direct assistance to meet the challenges the disease brings with it. However, the organization spent the donors’ money on fund research, the message says.