Founder previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy
SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit to shut down six fake nonprofit entities posing as well-known, international organizations created by Ian Richard Hosang, a former stockbroker who has ties to the mafia. The lawsuit alleges that Hosang could be using the nonprofits to cover up illegal activity.
Hosang created six nonprofit entities in Washington: American Cancer Society of Seattle, American Cancer Society of Washington, American Red Cross of Seattle, American Red Cross of Washington, United Way of Seattle and United Way of Washington. None of these nonprofits are related to the legitimate, charitable organizations with the same or similar names.
Ferguson’s investigators appear to have uncovered the sham nonprofits before any Washingtonians donated to the organizations. If you donated to any of Hosang’s organizations, please contact the Attorney General’s Office here.
“I’m deeply concerned that a convicted money launderer created these sham nonprofits using the names of legitimate, internationally recognized organizations,” said Ferguson. “If you donated to any of these nonprofits, please contact my office.”
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, alleges that Hosang violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Nonprofit Corporations Act when he incorporated the fraudulent nonprofits.
Nonprofit corporations operating in Washington must have a legitimate address along with records of finances and associates and must provide the benefits, service or education as stated in their purpose or mission statement. Hosang’s organizations failed all of these requirements, violating the Nonprofit Corporations Act.
Hosang registered the organizations as nonprofits, but did not register any of the six as charities with the Washington State Secretary of State.
Though each of the nonprofits listed an address in Washington, neither the nonprofits, nor Hosang or any other associate, reside in the state. Each organization listed its address as a UPS Store in Seattle, but Hosang instructed the store to forward any mail received at this address to a P.O. Box in Brooklyn, New York.
The “nonprofits” also did not perform any activities listed in their mission statements or provide any money or assistance to the beneficiaries they claimed to help. Additionally, Hosang fraudulently named his organizations after legitimate charities, even though he and his associates had no affiliation with them.
In November 2016, Hosang created the first of the six organizations – the American Cancer Society of Washington. Less than two years later, he created the remaining five over a span of two days in February 2018.
The Attorney General’s investigators did not find evidence that the organizations solicited donations. However, investigators discovered that Hosang received at least one check made out to The American Cancer Society of Washington. Ferguson alleges that Hosang used the nonprofits to obscure financial transactions.
In addition to his Washington organizations, Hosang created entities with variations of the same names in eight other states across the nation.
Hosang previously spent 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy charges arising from his ties to the infamous Gambino crime family in New York.
Ferguson asks the court to dissolve the organizations and prevent Hosang from operating any of the six nonprofit organizations or any new nonprofits in a similar manner. The office also requests that the court distribute any assets held by the organizations to legitimate nonprofit organizations that carry out the work that Hosang’s nonprofits purported to do.
Assistant Attorney General Joshua Studor of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit is lead attorney in the case.
Scammers can use charities to prey on generosity. Do plenty of research before donating money. To make sure a charity is legitimate:
- Ask for detailed information about the organization, including an address, phone number and name
- Ask the organization what percentage of donations benefit the actual cause
- Check if the charity is registered with the Washington Secretary of State
Visit ftc.gov/charities for more information on how to avoid charity scams.
Consumers who donated to any of these nonprofits, or who have issues with any charity or business, should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at https://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org