The Cancer Fund of America raised almost half a million dollars in 2012, purportedly to pay for prostheses, bras and other products for women battling breast disease — but little actually went to patients.
Only $37,280, or a little more than 8 percent of the $448,276 collected, was used for the intended purposes, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Utah alleges.
It says the fund, which also uses the name Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund (BCFAF), kept the remaining $410,996.
The BBB says programs should receive 65 percent or more of donations.
On Tuesday, the BBB urged potential donors to use caution when solicited for donations by BCFAF, which has an office in Salt Lake City.
The Cancer Fund of America/BCFAF has been the subject of numerous legal actions by government agencies, the bureau says, and was recently dubbed the Second Worst Charity in the United States in a report by the Tampa Bay Times in Florida and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The Cancer Fund of America is based in Knoxville, Tenn. The Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code says BCFAF lists a local address in Midvale, but the Cancer Fund of America confirmed that BCFAF operates from a Salt Lake City office, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The bureau reported that a neighboring tenant at the Salt Lake City location says the tenant at the BCFAF address is Feature Films for Families.
Forrest S. Baker is the chief executive officer of Feature Films for Families and a principal in Corporations for Character, which was hired by the Cancer Fund of America to solicit donations, the BBB says.
A 2011 lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission alleged Feature Films for Families and Corporations for Character, a fundraising company, made 16 million calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and misrepresented how funds would be used.
The voice mailbox at the BCFAF number in Utah was full, and no one responded to a message sent to the BCFAF email requesting comment.
Baker could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
A man who answered the phone at Corporations for Character in Murray said the company passes along the money it raises to its clients, after keeping its share, and has no control over how the donations are spent.
The man, who said he was with the legal department but declined to give his name, said Corporations for Character charges a standard rate but added he did not know what that rate is.
He also said Baker is not a principal in BCFAF and that BCFAF is not physically located at the Salt Lake City office but lists that address because Corporations for Character handles its fundraising and customer service.
The BBB also has the following advice for people receiving solicitations by phone:
• Ask for written information from the organization before giving.
• Be wary of names that sound like well-known charities
• Resist high-pressure tactics.
• Ask if the caller is a professional telemarketer and how much of the donation will go to charity.