Non-Profits, Grants and Grant Writing

In August I attended the 36th Annual NOVA Conference and one of the workshops that I attended was on Grant Writing. It was a great workshop, but I left feeling overwhelmed. While Scam Victims United is an Non-Profit, our staff is very small . . . myself, my husband and a dedicated moderator basically sums things up. I guess when we started the process to become a non-profit I thought that it would open the doors to more opportunities, and we would easily be able to find grants to support our work, but finding and getting those grants is a lot of work. Add to that the fact that all of that legal talk sounds like “blah, blah, blah” or the adults from the Charlie Brown cartoons I watched as a kid, it is an uphill battle.

For those that know me, you know that does not mean I am not going to try . . . I just needed my day to vent about how hard it sometimes feels. Thanks for listening.

FTC Halts Cross Border Domain Name Registration Scam

I was glad to see this press release from the FTC, because as the Co-Founder of a non-profit I have seen the letters that companies like this send out, and how real some of them look, so I can see how some people would believe that they must really pay the fees that these people are asking for.

Read the press release to understand what I am talking about . . .

Thousands of Small Businesses and Non-profits Billed for Bogus Renewal Fees

The Federal Trade Commission has permanently halted the operations of Canadian con artists who allegedly posed as domain name registrars and convinced thousands of U.S. consumers, small businesses and non-profit organizations to pay bogus bills by leading them to believe they would lose their Web site addresses unless they paid. Settlement and default judgment orders signed by the court will bar the deceptive practices in the future.

In June 2008, the FTC charged Toronto-based Internet Listing Service with sending fake invoices to small businesses and others, listing the existing domain name of the consumer’s Web site or a slight variation on the domain name, such as substituting “.org” for “.com.” The invoices appeared to come from the businesses’ existing domain name registrar and instructed them to pay for an annual “WEBSITE ADDRESS LISTING.” The invoices also claimed to include a search engine optimization service. Most consumers who received the “invoices” were led to believe that they had to pay them to maintain their registrations of domain names. Other consumers were induced to pay based on Internet Listing Service’s claims that its “Search Optimization” service would “direct mass traffic” to their sites and that their “proven search engine listing service” would result in “a substantial increase in traffic.”

The FTC’s complaint charged that most consumers who paid the defendants’ invoices did not receive any domain name registration services and that the “search optimization” service did not result in increased traffic to the consumers’ Web sites.

A federal district court judge in Chicago, Robert M. Dow, Jr., ordered a temporary halt to the deceptive claims and froze the defendants’ assets, pending trial. The settlement and default judgment orders announced today end that litigation.

The orders bar the defendants from misrepresenting: that they have a preexisting business relationship with consumers; that consumers owe them money; that they will provide domain name registration; and that they will provide “search optimization services” that will substantially increase traffic to consumers’ Web sites. The defendants are also required to disclose any material restrictions or aspects of any goods or services they provide.

The settlement order, entered against defendants Isaac Benlolo, Kirk Mulveney, Pearl Keslassy, and 1646153 Ontario Inc., includes a suspended judgment of $4,261,876, the total amount of consumer injury caused by the illegal activities. Based on the inability of the settling defendants to pay, they will turn over $10,000 to satisfy the judgment. The default judgment order was entered against defendant Steven E. Dale and includes a judgment in the amount of $4,261,876.

Charges against Ari Balabanian and Data Business Solutions were dismissed by the court at the FTC’s request.

NOTE: Stipulated orders are for settlement purposes only and do not necessarily constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Stipulated orders have the full force of law when signed by the judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.

Looking for volunteers

We are looking for volunteers for upcoming projects with ScamVictimsUnited.com.  Please let us know if you are interested and have a background in any of the following areas, as these will be useful to some of the projects.

                        Fundraising

                        Non-Profits

                        Law Enforcement

                        Consumer Protection

                        Graphic Design

                        Video Production

                        Marketing/Promotion

                        PSA

                        Law

                        Lobbying

                        Banking

                        Financial Education

                        Grant Writing