Two sham cancer charities shut down for fraudulent fundraising

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DENVER -- Two sham cancer charities are being banned because of fraudulent fundraising, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced Wednesday.

Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and their leader, James Reynolds, are “one of the worst 'families' of charities ever prosecuted in the United States," Coffman’s office said in a news release.

More than $187 million was fraudulently raised by four sham charities with only 3 cents of every dollar going to cancer patients and survivors, investigators said. The other two sham charities settled last year.

“This is about as bad as it gets,” Coffman said. “This extended family of crooks promised to help those struggling to overcome a catastrophic illness but instead pocketed six-figure salaries. Though we will probably never recover the millions in stolen donations or in levied fines, we have been successful in shutting them down and preventing their theft of any more money from generous Coloradans.”

Reynolds and members of his family solicited millions in donations by promising the contributions would help pay for chemotherapy, hospice care and other services for cancer patients, investigators said.

Instead, donations were used for the family's lavish lifestyle, including luxury cars, boats, plane tickets, cruises and a family trip to Disneyland.

It’s the first time the federal government and all 50 states mounted an action against a sham charity. CFA, CSS and Reynolds were fined $75.8 million. Besides CFA and CSS shutting down, Reynolds is permanently banned from charity fundraising and nonprofit work.

“Coloradans have big hearts and open up their wallets to help others in need.  It is extremely important that their generosity not be taken advantage of by con artists posing as charities,” Coffman said.

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