An out-of-state charity named as one of the nation's 50 worst hires an Arkansas-based company to work the phones and raise money. and a lot of money was raised.
But...very little went to anyone in Arkansas.
This is going to sound absurd, but the Attorney General alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that over 99 percent of the money raised by a Conway-based telemarketing company was spent on fundraising fees, not on people in need in Arkansas.
The lawsuit filed against the National Police Defense Foundation alleges that the New Jersey company contracted with an Arkansas company, Conway's USA Publishing, to create a false sense of security for donors...that Arkansas money sent to an Arkansas address would be used to help Arkansas people.
"The Conway company called consumers and asked for donations for a variety of different first responder charities," says Sarah Tacker, Senior Assistant Attorney General.
We visited the Conway office of USA Publishing at 1615 East Oak Street.
There was no sign of owners William and Kathleen Parker, but a couple of their employees seemed interested in our presence.
"Why are you guys shooting video?" one of them asked as they drove by video taping us with a cell phone.
According to the lawsuit, "Of the thousands of dollars collected in Arkansas, almost none were used for charitable purposes in the state of Arkansas."
The lawsuit claims $231,000 was donated by Arkansans.
$250.00 was donated to a fund memorializing a Trumann police officer (Jonathan Schmidt) killed in the line of duty and another $250.00 was donated to a memorial fund for a correctional officer (Barbara Estes) killed in the line of duty.
Tacker says the rest...or almost all the money...went to USA Publishing and the National Police Defense Fund.
"It's clearly a misrepresentation to consumers about what the money is going to be used for," says Tacker.
The lawsuit seeks to stop USA Publishing from using deceptive fundraising techniques and seeks restitution of all Arkansas donations given under false pretenses.
Air date: July 12th, 2013
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