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I-Team: Scammer targets donors who wanted to help children with cancer

Thousands of other people donated money to Helping Out and the Smiles for Kids Foundation when they got the pamphlet in the mail

NATIONWIDE (WGME) - As part of a nationwide scam, a man has admitted to raising money for two children's charities but keeping the money for himself.

"When you hear it's for children, everybody wants to help out children when it's for children," said donor Patricia Shoemaker.

Shoemaker and thousands of other people donated money to Helping Out and the Smiles for Kids Foundation when they got the pamphlet in the mail.

Both charities claimed to be raising money for children battling cancer.

"Someone called saying you really need to send your check in right now because the kids are really counting on you," Shokemaker said.

Federal investigators say it was a sham and Clifford Edwards was setting up call centers for the two fake charities.

Over a three year span, 3,600 people gave Edwards more than $120,000.

"He was using the money for his personal expenses and not one single penny was going out to benefit kids with cancer," said U.S. Postal Inspector Eduardo Andrade.

Postal inspectors say before you agree to give any money to a charity, look them up.

"Get the specific name of the organization that is calling you and put the word scam right next to it and just Google that; you would be surprised to see how many other people complain about these people," Andrade said.

Edwards was charged with 20 counts of mail fraud and sentenced to 4 years in prison.

He was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the victims.

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