A more accurate name for the Cancer Fund of America would be the Reynolds Family Luxury Fund, according to federal investigators who say they've uncovered one of the biggest charity frauds on record. An FTC complaint says the fund and three related charities—the Breast Cancer Society, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, and Cancer Support Services—spent just 3% of donations on cancer patients and used much of the rest to pay for things like college tuition, consumer goods, luxury cruises, and even dating site memberships for family and friends, the Wall Street Journal reports. The organizations are accused of scamming donors out of $187 million between 2008 and 2012.
The FTC complaint calls the organizations "sham charities" operated as "personal fiefdoms" by James T. Reynolds of Knoxville, Tenn., and his relatives, the Journal reports. Regulators from all 50 states joined the complaint. "Some charities use donations to send children with cancer to Disney World," South Carolina's secretary of state tells the New York Times. "In this case, the Children's Cancer Fund of America used donations to send themselves to Disney World." Two of the charities have already agreed to be dissolved, and the FTC says recovered funds will go to legitimate charities, though the chief of the commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection tells CNN that there's not much left and regulators will be lucky to recover $1 million. (Read more charity stories.)