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Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is warning consumers to be aware of phony “look alike” charities. The Consumer Protection division recently received a judgment against several phony charities operating in North Dakota.

Ian Hosang, Rhett McIntosh, and Judith Culzac, of New York, formed nonprofit corporations called American Cancer Society of North Dakota, American Cancer Society of Bismarck, and American Cancer Society for Children of North Dakota. These supposed charities are not affiliated with the American Cancer Society, which filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection division.

The court found that these fake charities engaged in consumer fraud by using names deceptively similar to the real American Cancer Society and that they engaged in solicitation of charitable contributions while unregistered. Donations given to these phony charities did not benefit any charitable purpose connected with the American Cancer Society.

In addition to ordering the fake charities involuntarily dissolved and banned from engaging in charitable solicitations, the court also ordered the fake charities to pay civil penalties and fees and costs to the Attorney General.

Stenehjem reminds North Dakotans that scam artists often take advantage of natural disasters to set up fake charities and solicit donations, often online. Money donated to these fake charities does not benefit anyone other than the scam artist.

“One way to may sure your generosity counts is to make a donation directly to a reputable charity located in your own community,” Stenehjem said.

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Parrell Grossman, director of the consumer protection division, reminds the public it is illegal to engage in charitable solicitations without being registered with the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General will take enforcement action for not registering.

North Dakota residents who have questions about a charitable solicitation they have received can review information on the Consumer Rights page, online at www.attorneygeneral.nd.gov or call the Consumer Protection division at 701-328-3404.

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