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Bar News - March 13, 2009


Fraudulent Charities Increase, Says AG’s Office

Thinking about donating money to charity? Be careful, says the state’s Attorney General’s Office. According to Michael DeLucia, head of the Charitable Trusts Unit, his office is receiving a "steady stream of telephone calls…asking about charitable solicitations and charitable behaviors."

DeLucia says that his office continues to conduct inquiries when complaints are made and also says that the average level of fraud in the charitable sector is staggering.

"Columbia University Law School and the National Association of Attorneys General recently held a conference on fraud in the charitable sector and several scholars estimated that fraud…was approximately $40 billion per year," said DeLucia. "That can take many forms, including embezzlement by a staff member or solicitation by a fraudulent charity."

There are currently 7,000-plus charities registered in the state and registering with the office is a requirement to conduct business, as is the filing of annual financial reports.

If you’re planning to donate money to charity, DeLucia suggests contacting the organization for written materials describing the charity and its mission.

"Be generous, especially in these hard times," said DeLucia, "but be wise and ask questions."

For more information about a particular charity, visit www.guidestar.org, where you can get financial information on any registered charity. Also visit the Better Business Bureau’s www.give.org.

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