TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Tuesday that nearly half a million dollars has been recovered from a nationwide charity robocall scheme, and redistributed to Florida charities.
The funding is the result of previous legal action taken by Moody, along with the Federal Trade Commission and agencies from 37 other states and the District of Columbia. The coalition worked together to shut down the operation that bombarded 67 million consumers with more than one billion deceptive charitable fundraising robocalls.
Associated Community Services, based out of Michigan, its sister companies and owners were ordered to pay almost $500,000.
According to Moody, the organization claimed to be raising money for homeless veterans, cancer patients, victims of house fires and other charitable causes, but would keep 90 cents of every dollar for profit.
“This deceptive charity robocall scheme purported to help veterans, first responders and cancer patients but instead ripped off generous Floridians and donors nationwide,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The recovered money will now be redistributed to three Florida charities, the American Cancer Society, Semper Fi & America’s Fund and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The money will be used to assist with cancer treatment and to help military service members, first responders and their families.
Moody ceremoniously presented a check for $125,000 to Semper Fi & America’s Fund on Tuesday.
Moody also warned that with the holidays approaching, fake organizations will use the season of goodwill to try to scam people out of their funds. Over the past year, a billion robocalls went out to Floridians trying to take advantage of their generosity, according to the attorney general.
To avoid falling victim to these scams, Moody encourages Floridians to follow these tips to research a charity before making a charitable contribution:
- Research a charity through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at Give.org or Charity Navigator to determine whether a charity has any complaints against it before donating
- Research how the charity uses donations
- Refrain from providing banking information to unsolicited callers or emails on behalf of a charity
- Carefully review the charity’s name before making a donation
To report consumer scams or deceptive business practices, visit MyFloridaLegal.com or call 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.