(WARREN, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a fraudulent charitable operation has been ordered to pay $977,628 in damages, restitution, and other costs. Donors throughout the U.S. contributed to The American Breast Cancer Federation and The American Veterans Federation, both created by Brandon Malone of Youngstown, but the organizations did little or nothing to help breast cancer patients or veterans.
“It’s infuriating when scammers dupe generous Americans into donating to sham charities by confusing them with legitimate-sounding names,” Attorney General DeWine said. “I am pleased that the money donated will now go to charities for breast cancer and veterans as intended.”
The American Breast Cancer Federation, created in March 2010, had a stated goal of increasing public awareness of breast cancer, counseling patients with breast cancer, and giving financial assistance to patients with breast cancer. The organization raised at least $366,000 in donations but gave only $600 in direct aid to breast cancer patients. Similarly, The American Veterans Federation, created in April 2011, claimed to assist veterans in need and to distribute educational material about veterans’ needs but it never assisted any veterans.
The Attorney General filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the two charities, Brandon Malone, and several other defendants for multiple violations of Ohio’s charitable laws. The court ruled in July 2013 that the charities were fraudulent and ordered them to dissolve and pay $578,628.50 total in restitution, damages, and other costs, including $73,271.80 in restitution and $366,369 in punitive damages, which the Attorney General will distribute to breast cancer and veterans' charities.
Later, in separate rulings, the court ordered Brandon Malone, PJG Enterprises (which solicited on behalf of the organizations), and PJG owner Paul Grossi to pay $399,000 total, which the Attorney General will distribute to breast cancer and veterans' charities. The defendants also agree not to solicit for any charity in Ohio.
Attorney General DeWine reminds potential donors to ask for written information before making a contribution and to avoid sharing bank or credit card information when responding to unexpected calls. Warning signs of a scam include overly aggressive or pushy tactics and callers who are unable or unwilling to answer questions.
Consumers should report suspicious charitable activity to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Kate Hanson: 614-466-3840