CHARLESTON -- Attorney General Darrell McGraw has joined the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement officials from 48 states and the District of Columbia in a nationwide, federal-state crackdown on fraudulent charities.

In "Operation False Charity," state and federal officials announced a series of enforcement actions against fund-raising operations that solicit donations from consumers by falsely claiming proceeds will be used to assist police, firefighters, and veterans. The agencies also released new education materials to help consumers recognize and avoid charitable solicitation fraud.

As part of Operation False Charity, McGraw announced a settlement with Community Support, Inc. (CSI), a Milwaukee based professional solicitor who agreed to resolve complaints of widespread frauds in its solicitations from consumers.

The agreement settles allegations that CSI obtained money by falsely claiming contributions would benefit organizations near to where donors live, and rented post office boxes near the donors' communities to suggest a local presence. Although CSI kept 83 percent to 90 percent of every contribution, complaints filed in many states allege that the company told consumers that 100 percent of their money would go to charitable programs. The settlement permanently enjoins the company from engaging in fraudulent solicitation practices and provides for $200,000 in civil penalties for the 32 states involved in negotiating the agreement.

McGraw also announced his agreement with I Glo Workshop, Inc. (I Glo), a Phoenix telemarketing company that sold household goods by representing that a portion of the purchase price would be used to support people with disabilities, including veterans. When donors failed to pay, I Glo reported the accounts to a collection agency. Under the terms of the agreement, the company agreed to refrain from telemarketing in West Virginia until it complies with state charity and telemarketing laws, as well as pay restitution to consumers.

McGraw's office says the following Web sites are good resources to check out legitimate charities:

* www.nasconet.org

* www.guidestar.org

* www.bbb.us/charity

* www.charitynavigator.org

* www.charitywatch.org

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