Alleged scam charity group banned from soliciting donations in Minnesota

Minnesota AG Keith Ellison joined the FTC and three other state AGs in suing the group.
Author:
Publish date:

A group that allegedly "bilked" American residents out of millions of dollars has been permanently banned from charitable fundraising after a lawsuit was brought by four states including Minnesota.

A Federal Trade Commission complaint describes a "sprawling fundraising operation" spread across four "sham charities" – Gelvan; Outreach Calling, Inc.; Outsource 3000, Inc.; and Production Consulting Corp. – under the control of Mark Gelvan, and his associates Thomas Berkenbush, William English, and Damian Muziani.

The FTC and the four states allege that the organizations claimed to use consumer donations to help homeless veterans, retired and disabled law enforcement officers, breast cancer survivors, and others in need.

The complaint alleges they solicited donations, created fundraising materials, and placed calls misrepresenting how donations would be used, some of which violated consumers' "do-not-call" requests.

"In fact, these organizations spent almost none of the donations on the promised activities," an FTC statement reads, with around 90% of donations going to the four men.

"What little money the charities did receive was rarely spent on any of their supposedly charitable missions, sometimes less than two percent."

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

The four men, who have been the subject of "numerous" law enforcement action dating back to 1996, will be banned from taking part in any charity fundraising in the U.S. under a settlement proposed by the FTC.

They will also have to pay out $847,000 between them, which will go to actual charities. The four organizations are also subject to a penalty of more than $56 million, but this is partially suspended "based on their inability to pay."

Of the $847,000 settlement, $800,000 of it will come from Gelvan, who will also be required to sell two New Jersey properties.

AG Ellison's office said that the men also operated Community Support, Inc., which was banned in 2009 from operating in Minnesota.

Next Up

police tape, crime scene

Police ID couple found dead in home, murder-suicide suspected

The bodies were found in St. Louis County after the pair failed to show for work.

State Capitol

Minnesota's budget forecast improves, shows $641M surplus for 2020-21

"Higher general fund revenues and lower expected spending result in a projected surplus," MMB said.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Brooklyn Park shooting leaves 2 injured

Two victims sustained non-life threatening injuries during the Monday evening incident.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

Worthington settles police brutality lawsuit for $590,000, agrees to reforms

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who spent five days in the ICU after being arrested.

Michael Munoz

Rochester superintendent admits he plagiarized letter to staff

Med City Beat broke the story, prompting the superintendent to apologize.

police tape, crime scene

Man and woman, aged 55 and 62, found dead in their home

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

Gov. Tim Walz

Walz: COVID-19 guidance for Christmas likely to be similar to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving featured a ban on social gatherings with non-household members.

CCI 3

Mall of America is offering a virtual Santa experience this year

People can virtually tour Santa's Candy Cane Institute.

PD Shimmers 4

Annual guide to finding holiday lights displays in MN is released

More than 80 holiday displays are on this year's list.

Related

Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison, MN farmers push for probe into beef industry price fixing

Ellison joined attorney generals from 10 other states in calling for the Department of Justice to investigate.

Minnesotans donated $3M to Kars4Kids, but charity only spent $11,600 here

Lori Swanson says Kars4Kids doesn't make clear how it spends its donations.

MN joins lawsuit to block Trump's emergency border declaration

Attorney General Keith Ellison says Minnesota will join 15 other states in the lawsuit.

vaping

Minnesota to sue e-cig maker JUUL, accusing it of 'preying' upon students

AG Keith Ellison and Gov. Tim Walz announced the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Comcast St. Paul Office

First CenturyLink, now Comcast settles lawsuit with Minnesota AG

AG Keith Ellison accused Comcast with not being up front about the cost of services.

Star Tribune endorses neither candidate in Minnesota AG race

The newspaper says Doug Wardlow and Keith Ellison are too partisan for the office.