A Mill Creek couple allegedly used deceptive practices to raise donations to help children, according to the Washington State Attorney General's Office.
The AGO is seeking a temporary restraining order against Michael and Amy Gannon as well as Knowledge 4 Kids (also known as Kures for Kids). The state AG also filed Consumer Protection Act complaint against the charity.
According to the AGO, the couple gave the impression donations would help children with disabilities, but only a less than 5 percent of the money raised was donated. The Gannons kept 50 percent of the donations and the remainder was used to pay employees.
As charitable giving tends to rise during the holidays, the AGO wants an immediate restraining order to protect consumers.
"This is the third time the Gannons have been involved in deceptive business practices," said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "We'll keep pursuing them until they stop scamming consumers."
Knowledge 4 Kids asks for donations set up inside grocery stores and other retail locations. Solicitors told potential donors they volunteered, according to AGO investigators, even though they are actually paid in cash from the donations.
AGO said the Gannons are committing multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act including misrepresentations and failure to register.
While most donations were cash, making it difficult to return to donors, the AGO is seeking civil penalties and other relief.
This is the third time the Gannons have been connected to deceptive practices. In 2009, Michael Gannon was part of group tied to First Columbia Mortgage Corporation, which was investigated for unreasonable fees. He and his partners settled without admitting guilt.
The AGO sued Joseph Gannon and Rena Searles in 2013 for violations related to another charity. The Gannons supposedly helped scam donors at Autism Awareness United before starting Knowledge 4 Kids.
Assistant Attorneys General Ben Roesch and Sarah Shifley are leads on this case.
The AGO offers these tips to avoid charity scams:
- Don't give in to pressure. Take time to make your decision and remember it is OK to not donate.
- Ask for written material to take home and read over. Research to see where donations go.
- Find out if the solicitor is registered with the Secretary of State.
- Don't be fooled by a name that sounds similar to other well-established charities.
You can file a complaint if you've been a victim of consumer scam by calling the AGO at 1-800-551-4636 or visiting their website.