Charity Telemarketing Scam Costs $22m (news)

Telemarketing Scheme Indictments Surface Warnings On Safe Donation Practices

On Thursday, federal officials arrested Richard Zeitlin and Robert Piaro for allegedly defrauding donors of tens of millions of dollars that were meant for political nonprofit groups supporting causes like aid to military veterans and breast cancer research, according to reporting from The New York Times.

Zeitlin, who ran telemarketing call centers, is charged with fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. Piaro, who served as the treasurer of several political nonprofit groups, is charged with wire fraud and mail fraud. Both individuals could face significant prison sentences if convicted.

The indictment says that Zeitlin instructed employees at his call centers to mislead donors. It also says that Piaro made fraudulent claims about how donations would be spent.

About $22 million of the $28 million raised went to companies providing telemarketing services. Piaro paid himself about $526,000 from the money raised.  

Investigations into Zeitlin and Piaro revealed that a significant portion of the money they raised for groups was kept by their companies or spent on fundraising vendors. This story underscores the necessity for transparency, accountability, and vigilance in nonprofit fundraising and management.