On April 14, the Attorney General of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced his office has won a temporary restraining order to shut down what he says is a fake charitable organization purporting to raise funds to fight breast cancer. The New York AG is suing to stop the Long Island based Coalition for Breast Cancer Cures, Inc., (“CBCC”) from soliciting any further funds, collecting money, or destroying documents.
According to the Attorney General's press release, the suit alleges that David and Mindy Winston of Great Neck, New York, and other members of their family, collected $500,000 from New Yorkers with their scam. Instead of going to fund breast cancer awareness or research, the funds allegedly were used for luxury shopping, travel, restaurants, and other personal living expenses. Some examples of the items the suit claims the funds were spent on include: more than $7,700 in retail purchases at stores such as Louis Vuitton, Victoria’s Secret, Home Depot, Best Buy, Costco, CVS, Loehmann’s, and Target; more than $8,000 for sorority dues and other university expenses and fees; more than $1,300 for a spring break travel package and thousands of dollars on groceries, Netflix, and cable television.
The suit goes on to allege that the Winstons solicited donations to the phony charity by phone and mailings and would often continue to make unauthorized charges on a donor's credit card once they were given the number. To lend the charity the proper legitimacy, the Winstons claimed the CBCC was recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and included a fake “Non-Profit Tax-ID Number” on all correspondence with donors.
The Attorney General's office says that neither the Winstons nor their cohorts are authorized to solicit charitable contributions in New York. CBCC is not registered with the Attorney General as a charitable organization and the Resource Center is not registered with the Attorney General as a professional fundraiser, as required by law. The suit, filed in Nassau County, NY, asks the court to shut down the CBCC completely and seeks restitution and damages from the defendants.
The press release states this case is part of Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing initiative to fight charitable fundraising scams and to safeguard donors. Donors who suspect they have been a victim of charitable solicitation fraud should contact the Attorney General’s office at www.charitiesnys.com or by calling (212) 416-8402.