Wednesday, November 6, 2013

FBI says most university alumni associations are a front for fundraising scams

Stopping Alumni fundraising fraud
The US Justice Department has issued a public warning about most university alumni associations. Officials says alumni associations are a front for fundraising scams that prey on university graduates.

“Alumni associations say they are all about friendship, pride and being a part of the university community, but a 10-month investigation has found that these are false. Most are just simply fundraising money machines bent on squeezing every last cent out of hapless graduates for a gym or something,” said US Attorney Derek Snidely in a press conference in New York.

In a national sweep, FBI and local law enforcement officials arrested more than 200 university alumni association leaders in New York, Massachusetts and California. Most were arraigned on charges of racketeering.

“In the indictment we have handed down this morning we are charging these university officials with
Cash seized by the FBI
deliberately and consistently subverting the friend-raising aspects of their alumni association and instead turning into their own private piggybank,” said Snidely. “They targeted graduates with promises of fellowship, wine-tasting chapter meetings and discounts on home insurance but all the while they were just identifying them for fundraising opportunities.”

The government alleges that some universities purposely hire fundraisers to lead alumni associations and have seized documents that show universities assign fundraising targets to alumni organizations.

The FBI says they have evidence that many universities have targeted unemployed or underemployed students who recently graduated with a large student loan debt.

“Here we have big universities using their alumni associations targeting the most helpless, vulnerable and best educated people in our society,” said Snidely.

“When you get an email about a Nigerian who wants help smuggling cash out of the country, you don’t believe them. You know it’s a scam. Same thing when you get an email from an alumni association talking about being part of their community. What they really want is your money.”

University leaders across the country have reacted angrily at the police raids, calling them “blown out of all proportion.”

“I know for a fact that when universities contact you about being in their alumni association that your donation is the farthest thing from your mind,” said US League of Alumni Associations CFO Cliff Moneybags. “But that being said, we do have a campaign on and I’m sure any right-thinking graduate of this university will want to help us build another gym.”