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N.Y. Attorney General: Massive Breast Cancer Charity Scam Hits Long Island

ST. JAMES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Where did the money go?

A Long Island breast cancer charity is being sued, accused of raising millions of dollars, most of which was never used to fight the disease, reports CBS 2's Pablo Guzman.

Breast cancer is a fear that haunts thousands of women, primarily, and their loved ones.

Now, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants to close down a Long Island-based fundraising operation -- the Coalition Against Breast Cancer -- that has raised millions in donations for breast cancer research and support programs.

It was money that the head of the attorney general's Charities Bureau said was really used to support the charity's four officers.

"All of the individuals who claimed to have worked for this organization were fully employed elsewhere. These were their second jobs. It's really just a cash machine to help fund their lifestyles," Bureau Chief Jason Lillien said.

Upon hearing the news of the alleged fraud, legitimate breast cancer charities are appalled.

"They should not feel that because there's one aberration like this -- a horrible aberration -- that other organization are like that, because we're not. We're not," said Alice Yaker of NYC's SHARE.

The attorney general gave Guzman an address for this alleged charity, but it turned out to be a home in St. James in Suffolk County. The directory lists Andrew Smith as the "officer of charity," but no one was home.

The attorney general said even this outfit's website is deceiving. He said over the last three years this so-called charity got more than $4 million from the public for mammograms, but only 11 women actually got them.

"The Coalition Against Breast Cancer is a sham charity that defrauded Long Islanders, New Yorkers and people from around the country," Lillien said.

The alleged charity claims to be affiliated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Hospital; the attorney general said that's not true.

Schneiderman said only one-half of 1 percent of what the Coalition Against Breast Cancer raised went to anything legitimate. Charity watchdogs said that figure should be at least 60 to 70 percent, if not more.

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