Charity fraud doesn’t just hurt those who were swindled out of their donations. Its effects aren’t even limited to those who the alleged charity was raising funds for who will never actually see any of the donations. Charity fraud also makes it so people become less inclined to donate to charity for fear their donations will be wasted -hurting all charitable causes. With the rise of sites like Go Fund Me, social media and other forms of crowdsourced fundraising, charity cause is also becoming increasingly common, which is why prosecutors have been going after those who fraudulently raise funds more and more frequently. If you have been accused of charity fraud, please call a La Jolla Defense Lawyer as soon as possible.
Charity Fraud in the News
Two recent news stories have really shined a light on fundraising fraud. The first story has been widely reported on across the globe as a couple raised hundreds of thousand of dollars for a homeless man, who ended up seeing absolutely none of the money raised on his behalf. The couple created a story about the man being a homeless veteran who gave up his last $20 to help a stranded motorist and people on Go Fund Me were so touched by the tale that they donated over $400,000. The homeless man and the couple were all charged in Pennsylvania with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft.
Meanwhile in California, a woman was just charged with felony grand theft, second-degree burglary, witness intimidation and making false financial statements after soliciting money on Facebook to support firefighters during the recent Holy Fire. She pretended to be the wife of a firefighter battling the blaze and collected over $11,000 in cash and items intended to help firefighters.
Penalties for Charity Theft
The penalties for charity fraud vary drastically based on what specific charges are levied. If more than $950 (whether in cash or goods) was taken fraudulently, you can be charged with grand theft, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Because the public looks down on this crime so much, prosecutors will often file the charges as a felony although a good Del Mar criminal attorney may be able to convince them to only file misdemeanor charges. Felony grand theft is punishable by up to three years in prison.
In most cases, those who commit charity fraud will face multiple charges. A top Carmel Valley defense attorney may be able to minimize the charges and sentence you may face by negotiating a plea bargain to help you.
If you have been charged with charity fraud or any similar crime, please call Solana Beach fraud defense attorney Peter M. Liss. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons image by Howard Lake