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Attorney General Bonta Joins FTC, Bipartisan Coalition of Attorneys General in Lawsuit Against Sham International Cancer Charity

Coalition moves for permanent injunction against Cancer Recovery Foundation International and President Gregory Anderson  

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a bipartisan multistate coalition of 10 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against Cancer Recovery Foundation International, Inc. (CRF) and its president, Gregory Anderson, for operating sham charities that collected millions of dollars from donors but provided little monetary assistance to cancer survivors and their families. In the lawsuit, the coalition alleges that CRF filed false and misleading financial reports and conducted deceptive solicitations to consumers across the country by using telemarketing scripts, direct mailers, and pledge letters. These deceptive business practices were designed to profit Gregory Anderson at the expense of women fighting cancer. CRF also operates under the names of Women’s Cancer Fund, Pink Diamond Women’s Cancer Fund, New Era Cancer Research Fund, and Nutrition as Medicine. The coalition seeks a permanent injunction to ban the charity and its president from operating and prevent future violations of the law.

“Cancer Recovery Foundation solicited and misused generous donations from hardworking families – in California and across the nation – who wanted to help battle cancer, and support cancer patients and their families. In reality, the foundation’s president solicited donations unscrupulously to pay his salary, expenses, and benefits,” said Attorney General Bonta. "This type of behavior is unacceptable. Charities like Cancer Recovery Foundation that mislead individuals will be held accountable. The California Department of Justice is committed to protecting California's charity donors, beneficiaries, and organizations from the harm caused by deceptive charities." 

The Women’s Cancer Fund collected $18 million from generous donors between 2017 and 2022, promising donors that their donation would go directly to assist cancer patients with basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, and food for their children. Instead of using donors' contributions as intended, a large portion of the funds were used to benefit CRF's president, Gregory Anderson. CRF only spent $194,809, or roughly 1% of these funds on financial support to cancer patients. At the same time, Anderson paid himself a salary of $775,139 – nearly four times as much as CRF collectively gave to all the cancer patients it supported. In addition to his salary, Anderson also used donated funds for various costly expenses, such as hotels and travel. Meanwhile, Women’s Cancer Fund gave the vast majority of the funds it collected from donors, about 85%, to for-profit fundraisers that Anderson hired to make deceptive pitches on behalf of CRF. The Women’s Cancer Fund made misrepresentations to donors nationwide regarding its purported charitable programs. Women’s Cancer Fund lied to tens of thousands of generous donors about their charitable contributions.

CRF falsely claimed in its donor solicitations that their contributions were critically important and could help save women’s lives. It falsely fundraised by lying to donors stating that “50% of all money… goes to support women in treatment and recovery to overcome their financial difficulties.” Anderson solicited donations from donors despite knowing that only a small percentage of the funds would be spent on financially supporting women battling cancer. Anderson recruited and negotiated contracts with fundraisers who solicited contributions from donors. In numerous instances, Anderson signed contracts with fundraisers that specifically indicated that the fundraisers would receive 85% to 90% of total funds raised. Anderson approved and authorized fundraisers’ use of the scripts, pledge letters, and mailers with these misrepresentations included. In early 2020, Anderson also sent a handwritten letter to donors that he signed on behalf of Women’s Cancer Fund assuring donors that their donations would directly help thousands of women battling cancer with “basic living expenses.” Pledge letters made false promises and manipulated donors into thinking that their gifts were getting to cancer patients and their families. Instead, only about a penny of every dollar donated went to provide such support, while the overwhelming majority went to pay for-profit fundraisers and Anderson. 

Charities are required to report their donations and program expenses to the California Department of Justice, which include information about how much support a charity received from the public or other sources, how the charity is spending the money, and information on its assets and liabilities. The California Department of Justice works to regulate charities and the professional fundraisers who solicit on their behalf. The oversight protects charitable assets for their intended use and ensure that the charitable donations contributed by Californians are not misapplied and squandered through fraud or other means. Charities are required to register and file annual financial reports with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charities and Fundraisers. Donors are urged to research charities on the Attorney General’s website before deciding to donate.

In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta joins the FTC and the attorneys general of Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The complaint is attached here.