Fraud fighters: Michigan a leader in fighting charitable solicitation fraud

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Members of the Michigan Department of Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (second from left) are (left to right) Assistant Attorney General Will Bloomfield, Charitable Trust Administrator Inna Volkova, and Charitable Trust Auditor Joseph Kylman.

– Photo courtesy of Michigan Attorney General’s Office

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette last week announced that the Department’s Charitable Trust Section is receiving national attention for its aggressive pursuit of charitable solicitations fraud. Within the last year, Schuette’s Charitable Trust Section brought six total actions against fraudulent charities—more than any other state.

Michigan’s numerous enforcement actions were highlighted in April at Georgetown Law’s “Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations” conference during a panel that reviewed the past year’s state enforcement actions. As National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) President Karen Gano stated during the panel: “Take note that Michigan has found a more efficient way to use its resources ... You’re going to see a whole list of cases there.”

“This is a proud moment for my Charitable Trust team and a big nod to all the hard work they’ve done this past year,” said Schuette. “Michigan is a better place to live, work, and give because of their efforts. Special thanks to Assistant Attorney General Will Bloomfield for his leadership, putting scam artists on notice that we are watching.”

In addition to the recent enforcement actions, several other suspicious charities and their fundraisers have recently withdrawn voluntarily from Michigan rather than respond to Charitable Trust Section queries. These voluntary withdrawals likewise protect Michigan residents from dubious solicitation campaigns. The Charitable Trust Section is also regularly cooperating with other states to shut down sham charities.

Complaints regarding charitable solicitations may be filed through the Attorney General’s online complaint form, or by mailing the Charitable Trust Section at P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, 48909-7714, or by emailing the Charitable Trust Section at ct_email@mi.gov.

To assist individuals in making wise decisions regarding which charitable donations to support, Schuette established an online searchable database for charities, accessible at www.mi.gov/charitysearch. The attorney general also publishes an annual professional fundraising charitable solicitation report, available at www.mi.gov/charity. Through these resources, users have access to information to aid them in determining which charities are worth supporting—and which are not.

The Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section is also available at 517-373-1152 to answer inquiries about a charity.

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