Former employee of cancer charity talks about alleged bilked donations

Several cancer charity organizations are under federal investigation for taking $187 million of your donations to buy houses, trips and cars.

One of those places is in metro Detroit. In an exclusive interview, one of those former charity employees says she is disgusted by the revelations.

"The tears," said Heidi Wilson. "When I knelt down to ask God to forgive me for what I have been doing here."

For eight years Wilson worked for Cancer Support Services in Dearborn. The a non-profit raises money for cancer patients by cold-calling potential and current supporters for donations. 

"I either got a yes or a no." she said. "The objective is we were supposed to turn a no into a yes." 

FOX 2: "And you did that?"

"I did it wholeheartedly," Wilson said.

But she never suspected she may have been lining her bosses' pockets until last Tuesday.

"When the federal government gets involved with all 50 states including DC," she said. "That's a little more serious than charity navigator." 

The Federal Trade Commission sued CSS and three other cancer charities like it. In all, they claimed that more than $187 million from donors who believed they were helping cancer patients.

Instead feds say the money was spent on cars, gym memberships, dating websites even cruises.

CSS claims 40 percent of it's donations go to cancer patients. But the FTC says only three percent of the money went there.

"As we were leaving that Tuesday, the general manager was wishing us all a good evening," Wilson said. "And she said 'Don't listen to anything you hear on CNN.'"

That was how Wilson said she got the news from supervisors. They sent out a memo a day later advising workers on how to deflect potential donors' concerns.

FOX 2: "I'm leery about giving to you guys, what do you tell me."

Wilson: "'Mrs. Smith, at this time we are aware of the ongoing litigation that our charity is facing, please keep in mind that we are still raising money to help the cancer patients with much needed supplies."

Unable and unwilling to keep up the charade, Heidi quit two days later.

"I can't, I'm not going to go in and sit there and knowingly lie to people to get their hard-earned money," she said. "When their money isn't going to help cancer patients."

FOX 2 called Cancer Support Services in Dearborn and spoke with the general manager who said they've been made aware of the allegations but are not making any comments.

Two of the cancer charities have already settled with the federal government the other two including CSS, are still hitting up donors for money.

Heidi Wilson is now filing for unemployment.
Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories