WASHINGTON, Utah (KUTV) — A company raising money for charity has been accused of making false claims.
Employees from the Washington County School District videotaped a group of people raising money for suicide prevention over the course of two days in Washington County at a Wal-Mart and Harmon's Grocery shop.
The people claimed all the money would go to help prevent suicides in Washington County Schools.
Our Crisis In The Classroom reporter, Chris Jones, working with officials at the school district, discovered that was not the case.
In one of the videos, captured on a cell phone, one woman told a district employee when asked if all the money goes to local schools, “Yup it stays right local,” she said.
Another fundraiser, soliciting donations outside of a grocery store, told the same employee, “Yeah, so, we’re doing it for Washington County.”
However, Crisis In The Classroom, working with district officials have discovered that not a penny of those donations is guaranteed to go to Utah.
Steve Dunham is the spokesperson for the school district, he said before digging into the case, he had no idea who these fundraisers were.
"Washington County Schools is not working with them, you can't say you're fundraising for Washington County School District when you're not, we've never received a penny from you,” Dunham said.
We’ve discovered that the employees work for a private fundraising company called Prolific Solutions.
2News tried twice to contact the company based in Salt Lake City, as well as a consultant working with them but they did not respond to our requests.
We’ve discovered that the company was hired by a charity called Stand For The Silent.
After several days we tracked down its founder, Kirk Smalley. Smalley founded the charity after his 11-year-old son Ty took his own life.
Smalley said he travels the country speaking to students in schools coast-to-coast. Prolific, he said, was raising money to help him pay for travel expenses to get to each school.
Smalley, from his home in Perkins, Okla., admitted he wasn’t aware of some of the tactics used by Prolific until Crisis In The Classroom contacted him. He said he had since ordered Prolific to stop making the claims.
“This particularly representative mis-represented what he was doing and is currently in the process of being retrained,” Smalley said.
Smalley said he was also unaware that Prolific fundraisers were making claims that 100 percent of the money they raise goes to the charity.
Crisis In The Classroom has learned that Prolific makes 25 cents off every dollar they raise for Stand For The Silent.
“It looks like a lot of money is going towards paying salaries for people outside of this charity and outside of the programs that should be helping anti-bullying,” Dunham said.
Dunham said he has even more concerns.
In the videos, one of the fundraisers told the school employee that they are raising money across the Mountain West.
"Our team is based in Salt Lake but we travel all around. We go on a road trips to Pocatello, we go to Santa Fe, just to help out as many schools as we can all around,” she said about the fundraiser.
Dunham was left wondering how many people were actually involved in the background "fundraising."