WASHINGTON - Maryland officials are warning people about an alleged fake cancer charity organization soliciting donations. Maryland’s secretary of state is investigating We Can-Cer vive, an organization reportedly collecting money and donations for what it says is a mission trip to Honduras.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says it is a scam aimed at defrauding the public.
Maryland's charities investigator says We Can-Cer vive has violated several state laws by not properly registering the organization and not receiving approval from the state before soliciting charitable contributions. But that is not all.
The countdown is still ticking on We Can Cer-Vive’s website. It claims in three days, the organization's founder, Mia Wright and a team, will go on a mission to Honduras – all to help fight cancer.
However, Wright is in hot water with Secretary of State John Wobensmith. A cease and desist order sent on Friday to Wright and We Can-Cer vive says the organization did not register nor receive permission from the state to solicit donations.
The order goes on to say Wright misrepresented and misled donors by falsely claiming to be a 501(c)(3) charity organization using a website, various social media outlets and various fundraising events.
An employee at a Northeast D.C. company did not want to show her face on camera, but did confirm the company was prepared to make a donation to Wright's organization until investigators called them Tuesday saying We Can-Cer vive is not a charity organization.
On social media, Wright says she is a three-time ovarian cancer survivor.
"Charities who deceive the public will not be permitted to solicit in Maryland," said Wobensmith in a news release. "We will investigate them, and if an investigation confirms they're scamming the public, take those steps necessary to shut down any and all unlawful practices."
Attorney Angela Hansen, who contacted FOX 5 saying she represents Wright and We Can-Cer vive, insists the organization is legitimate despite the state's assertion and says paperwork was misfiled.
In a statement, Wright and We Can-Cer vive said:
"It has come to my attention that the State of Maryland Office of the Secretary of State issued a 'Cease and Desist Order' to our organization and me that was mailed on July 28, 2017. I will briefly address the State’s allegations, given the short window of time that I have to respond to the media requests. It was brought to my attention on or about July 10, 2017 that we mistakenly used the logos that belonged to unaffiliated organizations. I believed that our immediate response, telephone conversations and removal of the logos were the end of the problem. Obviously, that was not the case. I am now being made aware of the fact that our federally tax-exempt organization was not properly registered as a nonprofit under the Maryland Business Regulation Article. I assure you that this oversight was not intentional. I am in receipt of the Internal Revenue Service letter confirming our 501(c)(3) status in April 2015. The Secretary of State Office is now alleging that there is a problem with our tax-exempt registration. We will make every effort to get to the bottom of this allegation and confusion. Please know that I stand behind my calling of assisting cancer patients declared terminally ill and their families. I can assure the public that all funds raised by me and We CAN-CER-vive! go directly to support the mission of the organization and that we are working to rectify the mistakes made in failing to register in Maryland and will be happy to continue to show the good work that we do."
To check if a charity is registered or to report suspected violations, you can call 1-800-825-4510.