MUSC Hollings Cancer Center issued funds following action against sham cancer fund charities

On Wednesday, South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced the allocation of a $39,024 payout to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, following a landmark enforcement action against four bogus charities and their directors.

“It’s so rare for funds to be recovered from these bad actors and then distributed among the real cause the donors wanted to support,” Hammond said at a press conference in Hollings. “I am pleased that South Carolina residents are seeing a direct benefit from this enforcement action through such a worthy organization as MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.”

Hammond said he wants South Carolinians to know that the nonprofits they donate to are legitimate and that they are using the funds as intended. He was pleased to present the distribution to Hollings for his role in fighting cancer and serving rural and underrepresented communities in South Carolina.

“Because of the hard work at MUSC Hollings, the certification from the National Cancer Institute, and the patient care that Hollings provides, this was the only South Carolina location to receive money from this settlement,” Hammond said.

Hollings Cancer Center director Raymond N. DuBois, MD, Ph.D., thanked Hammond for offering the money to Hollings. “While it’s unfortunate that the donations were collected under false pretenses, it’s great that they will finally be used for those donors’ original reasons for giving, which is to help cancer patients.”

These funds will help support hundreds of breast and pediatric cancer patients in Hollings, said Debbie Bordeau, Hollings’ director of development. “The money will help provide financial assistance for housing, travel, meals, medicines and other necessities. These funds will also support our survival programs, which provide cancer survivors with the education and tools they need to improve both their mental and physical health after battling this terrifying disease.”

South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond provided opening commentary for the Cancer Control Press Conference on July 21, 2021 at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center. Photo by Marquel Coaxum

Michelle P. Hudspeth, MD, director of the pediatric hematology and oncology division, said these funds will go a long way toward helping families who need it most.

“These families are fighting not only a huge medical battle, but also a huge financial battle and an intense emotional battle,” Hudspeth said. “Some of our families travel more than 200 miles for care. This money will make an incredible difference in our efforts to continue serving the children and their families in South Carolina.”

In this unprecedented effort, in May 2015, the Office of the Secretary of State for South Carolina joined the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission to support the Cancer Fund of America, The Breast Cancer Society, Cancer Support Services, and Childhood Cancer Fund. from America.

The fraudulent charities, managed by Jim Reynolds along with his friends and relatives, blew more than $187 million to donors between 2008 and 2012. The multi-state complaint, filed in May 2015, included counts of systematic misrepresentations to the public about organizations’ charitable programs, manipulations of the values ​​assigned to donated items on their tax forms to make the organizations appear bigger and more efficient than they are. and the personal use of donated funds by the Reynolds family.

For example, the Reynolds family used donations to pay themselves exorbitant salaries and hold board meetings on cruises and vacation destinations like Disney World. Of the $187 million raised by the defendants, only 3% went to cancer patients in the United States in the form of “care kits” containing religious DVDs, Moon Pies, random items of clothing, and various items that have no palliative or supportive use for Americans. who suffer from cancer.

Following the filing of the multi-state enforcement action in 2015, the organization’s assets were liquidated. The final injunctions were issued in March 2019 by Neil V. Wake, the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which approved the charities’ recommendation to distribute the recovered funds to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, who would then allocate funds to National Cancer Institute Cancer Care. Centers around the world. nation to provide care and services to cancer patients in all 50 states. The purpose of this distribution was to ensure that the funds recovered can provide direct aid to cancer patients as intended by the original donors to the fraudulent cancer charities.

Since that time, approximately $2.5 million has been distributed, including the $39,024 distribution to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

Hammond said he hopes this historic case serves as an example that scammers in South Carolina will not be tolerated.

“Not only is this a historic case of charitable regulation, but it is also a warning to those who exploit people who want to help others through charitable donations,” Hammond said. “I encourage anyone concerned about a charitable organization, professional fundraiser, or nonprofit lottery to contact the Division of Public Charities at charities@sos.sc.gov or 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484). You can also use the online charitable complaint form at sos.sc.gov to make a confidential complaint 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

This project was supported by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Cancer Charities Settlement Fund.

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