Okla. Couple Charged in Charity Scheme

April 27, 2006

An Oklahoma couple has been charged with 30 counts of charity fraud after an investigation by Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s Consumer Protection Unit found the pair may have netted more than $230,000 from their scheme.

Gregory Sean Anderson, 37, and his wife, Sherri Ann Anderson, 32, were charged in Oklahoma County District Court with 30 counts of violating the Oklahoma Solicitation of Charitable Contributions Act. Investigators believe the Andersons made as many as 4,600 successful, but fraudulent, solicitations to Oklahoma businesses on behalf of charities the couple was not affiliated with.

“It appears the Andersons would find businesses that were willing to donate to charitable organizations, and then they solicited those businesses numerous times for different charities,” Edmondson said. “They basically found willing givers, and then took advantage of the generosity several times over.”

The state’s complaint alleges 30 instances where eyewitnesses either confirmed the couple fraudulently solicited businesses or deposited the money – a total of $1,875 – into their own accounts.

“We believe the Andersons made the solicitations in small amounts in an attempt to fly under the radar, but their repeated solicitations raised suspicions among donors and bank employees,” Edmondson said. “The charges we filed today are backed by eyewitness accounts of these individuals soliciting money and depositing it into their own bank accounts.”

Edmondson said the charities the Andersons used in their bogus solicitations included the Oklahoma Veterans Association, the Blind Children’s Learning Center, the Oklahoma University Youth Center, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Norman University Lion’s Club, the Lion’s Club and the OKC Beep Ball Bombers.

The solicitations all occurred between Jan. 12 and Oct. 24, 2005. If convicted, the Anderson’s could face up to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for each count. The case was referred to Edmondson’s office by the Oklahoma City Economic Crimes and Identity Theft Task Force. The Task Force is made up of representatives from the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, the United States Postal Service and the Secret Service.

Edmondson’s Consumer Protection Unit has statewide jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Anyone with information regarding suspected fraud or scams can contact the attorney general’s consumer protection hotline at (405) 521-2029.

Source: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office

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