For Immediate Release
MADIGAN SUES ILLINOIS MAN FOR "STEALING" IDENTITY OF CHICAGO CHARITY ALLEGEDLY TO MAKE MONEY FOR HIMSELF
FAKE CLOTHING DROP BOXES IN WILL, DUPAGE COUNTIES
Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan last Friday, May 5, sued an Illinois man who, unbeknownst to a small charity that provides hot meals, groceries and clothing to the needy, used its name on clothing drop boxes in the Chicagoland area to collect items that he allegedly sold at a lucrative profit in his own stores without the charity ever receiving any of the items or proceeds.
Madigan’s suit, filed today in Cook County Circuit Court, charges Frank M. Meek, d/b/a F.C.H.N., with one count of False Representations and one count of Failure to Register as a Professional Fundraiser.
According to Madigan’s complaint, in March 2004, Meek organized a for-profit company called Quality Clothing Company, LLC, located at 1201 State St., #308, Chicago. Beginning in at least January 2005, Meek placed clothing drop boxes and collection bins at various locations.
The sides of the boxes said, “Please…Clothing and Shoes Only…Thank You/Serving Chicago’s Needy Since 1988/F.C.H.N. Program, Feed Clothe & Help the Needy/1234 W. 59 th St./Chicago, IL 60636/(312) 405-0147/www.fchnprogram.org/Thanks to our community partners!/Place nothing outside of box.”
F.C.H.N. is a small charity located at 1234 W. 59 th St. in Chicago. But according to Madigan’s complaint, the Web site and phone number on the boxes were registered to Meek. F.C.H.N.’s founder has stated that the charity never gave Meek written authorization to solicit on its behalf, never gave Meek any authorization to use its name or Meek’s on drop boxes and never received any donated clothing from Meek or his business.
Instead of sharing anything with the true F.C.H.N., Meek allegedly arranged for the collection of donated clothing from the drop boxes and its shipment to Laredo, Texas, where he operates a for-profit business selling used clothes in bulk.
“F.C.H.N., a charity devoted to helping people, is basically a victim of charitable identity theft,” Madigan said. “We allege that Meek took over the charity’s name without its knowledge to prey on unwitting donors who dropped clothing and other items at the collection bins. Those people had good intentions. We allege Meek’s intention was pure profit and nothing else.”
Count I of Madigan’s complaint against Meek alleges that Meek and his solicitors violated the Solicitation for Charity Act by soliciting for charitable contributions using the name and symbol of F.C.H.N. without authorization and by making representations meant to mislead or confuse the public as to the source of the solicitation.
Count II of Madigan’s complaint alleges that Meek violated the Solicitation for Charity Act because Meek is a professional fundraiser who failed to register with Madigan’s office prior to soliciting.Madigan’s suit asks the court to order Meek to make a strict accounting of all assets, receipts, expenses and disbursements from funds raised, collected or promised as a result of his solicitations using the name “F.C.H.N. Program, Feed, Clothe & Help the Needy.” The suit also asks the court to declare that all contributions received by Meek as a result of his F.C.H.N. campaign be held in constructive trust for the real F.C.H.N.; permanently prohibit Meek and persons acting with him from soliciting, receiving or holding assets for charitable purposes; prohibit Meek from disbursing, transferring, expending or liquidating any funds, assets and accounts; and prohibit Meek from transferring, selling or encumbering any assets or property until the case is resolved.