They’re Caught Red-Handed…Scamming Donations!

In one of those “how low can you go” reports, the state of Ohio is suing a fake charity run by Mike Peppel. The state alleges he tried to cash in on the toxic train disaster which struck East Palestine back in February. The suit accuses Peppel of soliciting contributions in the area under the name “Ohio Clean Water Fund.

Fake charity scam

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against an allegedly phony charity, Ohio Clean Water Fund. He’s also seeking both a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to “halt Peppel’s illegal activity, prohibit him from engaging in additional charitable solicitations and preserve existing charitable assets.

In the wake of the Norfolk Southern train derailment, Peppel is accused of presenting his fund as “a nonprofit organization acting on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

The charity was supposed to use money they collected to “provide residents with emergency aid and bottled water.” It wasn’t used for that.

Instead, Peppel and others have pocketed at least $131,000 of the roughly $141,000 raised from more than 3,000 donors.” They did make a donation to the food bank of $10,000. While that seems like a lot, it’s not much compared to the take they pocketed.

The idea that somebody would so brazenly exploit a disaster situation and the good hearts of people who want to help is unconscionable,” Yost laments.

I’m mad as hell about this, and we’re going to make sure this sham charity gets shut down.” He found out about it when his office took a complaint call from the food bank. They were angry Peppel was using their name without approval.

Partnership not authorized

The charity popped up on the AG’s radar when “representatives of Second Harvest Food Bank complained to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that they had not authorized the partnership cited by Peppel in soliciting contributions via mass emails and text messages.

Because they’re still collecting money, Yost wants the restraining order and injunction to put a stop to it. That would shut down the operation and freeze the bank accounts.

Before they went to the AG, the food bank reached out to Peppel twice, “to tell him to stop advertising the non-existent partnership.

The charity only forked over the 10k after “he was called out.” That’s “a mere 7% of what Peppel admits he raised.” While it’s an industry-wide practice to shuffle a big chunk of donations to “administrative costs,” 93 percent is a con-game.

“Here’s a message for anybody else who might hope to profit from the situation in East Palestine: Don’t even think about it,” Yost warns. Folks there really do need a lot of help. This disaster was a whole lot more devastating than officials will ever willingly admit.

For those wanting to make a charitable contribution, AG Yost encourages donors to research charities and ask the right questions. Follow these steps to ensure that your money is going to a reputable charity.

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