The names of the charities seemed legitimate: The Cancer Fund of America Inc., The Breast Cancer Society Inc., Cancer Support Services Inc. and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc.
Benefactors, believing they were aiding cancer patients with chemotherapy transport and treatment, gifted more than $187 million to the four charities run by former army medic Jim Reynolds and his family.
Only 3% of the funds went to “care packages” filled with religious DVDs, Moon Pies, assorted pieces of clothing and other knick-knacks.
The rest lined Reynolds family coffers with cars and college tuition, purchased vacations to destinations like Disney World, bolstered organization advertising campaigns and sponsored board meetings on luxury cruise liners, according to a recent new release from the S.C. secretary of state.
In 2015, however, the South Carolina office teamed up with 49 other states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission to take down the Reynolds “cancer fund” and liquidated the funds, which were set aside in 2019 to support actual cancer treatment organizations and the patients they serve.
One of them is the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, which recently received a $39,024 grant used to aid hundreds of breast and pediatric cancer patients, according to Debbie Bordeau, the center’s director of development.
“The grant will help provide financial assistance for housing, travel, meals, medication and other necessities,” Bordeau said in the news release. “Funds from the grant will also support our survivorship programs, which give cancer survivors the education and tools they need to improve both their mental and physical health after battling this fearsome disease.”
Since 2019, about $2.5 million of the $187 million fund has been distributed through the Rockefeller Foundation to National Cancer Institute Cancer Care Centers throughout the country. The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is the only cancer center of its kind in the state, according to the release.
“While it’s unfortunate that the donations were collected under false pretenses, it’s wonderful that they will finally be used for those donors’ original reasons to give, which is to help cancer patients,” Hollings Cancer Center Director Dr. Raymond DuBois said in the release.
Hammond said he hopes this case serves as an example that scammers will not be tolerated in South Carolina, and prompted citizens to contact the Division of Public Charities or submit an online charitable solicitation complaint Form if they suspect a fraudulent charity or fundraiser.
“It is so rare that funds are recovered from these bad actors and then distributed to the actual cause that the donors intended to support,” S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond said in the release. “I am happy that South Carolina residents are seeing a direct benefit from this enforcement action through such a worthy organization as MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.”