Seattle - Janaury 7,1998 - In a continued crackdown on deceptive charitable solicitations, the Attorney General's Office today announced a $55,000 settlement with a New Jersey based telephone fund-raiser for two major Washington police organizations.
In addition to the $55,000 settlement payment, Civic Development Group, LLC, which raises funds for the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association and the Washington Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, agreed to stop its solicitors from claiming to be police officers and making other misrepresentations.
"Don't believe these are real police officers making these calls," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "These calls are being made by employees of commercial fund-raisers who make money when you give."
According to the AG's complaint, Civic Development Group solicitors falsely led consumers to believe they were police officers and claimed anywhere from 45 to 100 percent of the donation would be given directly to the charitable purpose. Official 1996 reports show this fund-raiser gave less than 25 percent of the money collected to its charity clients.
The AG's Office also advised the two police groups that hired the fund-raiser to take more responsibility for their fund-raising activities to protect contributors from being misled or deceived.
Gregoire doesn't believe people should stop giving based on this action, but she does encourage them to think twice and do some homework before writing the check.
"Ask questions and verify the answers," said Gregoire. "Check with the Secretary of State's Office to find out if the fund-raiser is registered, how the donation will be used and what percentage is going directly to the cause you want to support."
The AG's complaint accuses Civic Development of violating the state's Charitable Solicitations Act which requires organizations that solicit to register with the Secretary of State, disclose the name of the company they work for, and refrain from lying to consumers.
To check on a commercial fund-raiser or charity, call the Secretary of State's Charities Information Hotline at 1-800-332-4483 (360-753-1485 for the hearing impaired), or e-mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To file a complaint regarding a charitable solicitation call the AG's Office at 1-800-551-4636 (1-800-833-6384 for the hearing impaired)
Consumer tips and statutes regarding the charitable solicitations are also available on the Secretary of State's web site at www.wa.gov/sec/charities.
The complaint and consent decree with Civic Development Group were filed in King County Superior Court by Assistant Attorney General Dave Horn.