In response to the Ohio Attorney General’s announcement about its lawsuit against the people responsible for running the Ohio Cops For Kids scam, the Cleveland Police Foundation wishes to take this opportunity to clarify the difference between the Ohio Cops For Kids scam, and legitimate police charities and programs using the moniker “Cops For Kids.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit November 29, 2017 against the Ashtabula-based non-profit, Cops for Kids, Inc., formerly known as Ohio Cops for Kids, Inc. for fraudulently bilking unsuspecting donors out of $4.2 million. Defendants included Thomas Duffy, Charles Hitzel, and Telecom Enterprises of Ohio, Inc. It should be noted that the Cleveland Police Foundation is not affiliated, in any way, with Cops for Kids, Inc. Furthermore, the Cleveland Police Foundation does not engage the services of any fundraising professionals to solicit donations through telemarketing calls. Read a copy of the Complaint.
Many law enforcement agencies and their legitimate affiliates across the country use Cops For Kids or some facsimile in referring to their community outreach and engagement efforts with kids. That includes the Cleveland Division of Police.
The Cleveland Police Foundation (CPF) is an alliance of citizens, business and law enforcement organizations and charities committed to the ideal that a dedicated, well-trained and modernly equipped law enforcement agency leads to a safer community. Its mission is to strengthen the bonds between the Cleveland Division of Police and the citizens it serves, working together to make our city safer for all. To accomplish that goal, the CPF works proactively to support and invest in programs, community policing and engagement initiatives, and events that foster stronger relationships between citizens and police officers. The CPF is the primary vehicle for tax-exempt philanthropic gifts and grants from individuals, businesses and organizations to assist the Cleveland Division of Police in better serving the community. The Cleveland Cops For Kids Program plays a vital role in accomplishing that mission.
CPF Executive Director Charles W. Lane, Jr. stated, “Cleveland’s Cops For Kids is a legitimate program operated by the Cleveland Division of Police and is funded through its official charity, the Cleveland Police Foundation and has no association with the Ohio Cops For Kids, currently in litigation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. It’s most disheartening to hear of people with no legitimate association with law enforcement agencies and their charitable efforts preying on the generosity of good citizens who wish to support the police in their communities.”
Inquiries about the Cleveland Police Foundation and it’s charitable efforts should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 216-623-3333. For more information about the CPF, visit www.clevelandpolicefoundation.org.
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The Ohio Attorney General offers the following tips regarding charitable solicitation/giving:
Develop a giving plan. Determine in advance which charities you want to support. Respond to unexpected or unwanted requests by explaining that you already have a giving plan in place or that you need written information to evaluate a request.
Research charities. Find out if an organization is registered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, verify its tax-exempt status with the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check, and gather data from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator. View the organization’s IRS Form 990 on Guidestar. Review program descriptions, expenses, compensation levels, and other details. Conduct a basic internet search to review a group’s accomplishments or questionable activity.
Ask how your donation will be used. Keep in mind that some charitable giving requests come from professional solicitors who are paid to collect donations. By law, solicitors must identify themselves, and if you ask, they must tell you what percentage of your donation will go to the charity. (It may be only a small percentage.) Contact charities directly to find out how they use donations. Get information in writing. Compare a charity’s materials with information you gather from other sources.
Watch for red flags. Be wary of high-pressure tactics, requests for checks made out to an individual (instead of a charity), charities with only a few people on their board, and people who are unable or unwilling to answer questions about their organization. Don’t provide your credit card number or other personal information to callers who contact you unexpectedly.