(WKBN) – Ohio and Pennsylvania are working with 37 other states to shut down a robocall operation that investigators say used charitable causes to solicit $110 million of donations.
According to the complaint, the money was collected through a massive robocall operation by Associated Community Services, which made 1.3 billion calls to 67 million Americans.
Of that, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said nearly 56 million were made to Ohioans between January 2016 and August 2020.
There were over 61 million calls made to Pennsylvanians between January 2016 and August 2019.
The complaint said ACS made pitches on behalf of various charitable organizations to support breast cancer patients, victims of house fires, children with autism and homeless veterans.
The company is charged with duping Americans into donating to charities that didn’t provide the services they promised.
According to the complaint, the defendants knowingly kept as much as 90 cents of every dollar that was raised by donors.
“Ohioans are generous people, especially when it comes to answering calls to support our children and veterans,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “This was nothing but a get-rich scheme exploiting that generosity – so we shut it down.”
“ACS duped millions of Americans and took advantage of their generosity for its own financial gain,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “The settlement will ensure that this scam gets hung up on permanently, that the recovered money gets properly allocated, and that the shareholders of these companies are never able to prey on Pennsylvanians again.”
ACS shut down in September 2019. Its senior managers then formed Directele and the Dale Corporation and bought the donor lists from ACS, investigators say.
In the settlement, Directele and Dale must stop all operations and their shareholders can no longer engage in charitable fundraising.
“AARP applauds the action taken by Attorney General Shapiro and federal officials to stop a huge telephone charity scam operation that has plagued Pennsylvania residents for years,” said AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh. “Telemarketing charity scams like this one frequently target older adults and abuse the good will of donors to line their own pockets.”
The complaint also charges ACS with knowingly violating Telemarketing Sales Rules and with making harassing calls.