Is it illegal to say you are going to donate from sales and not do it?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it illegal to say you are going to donate from sales and not do it?

My girl friends cousin sells products mostly online and from parties. She told everyone and posted online that she is donating 70 of everything she sells to our daughter who is fighting cancer. Well she kept avoiding my girl friend for months and now says that she has her own problems and will not give her any of the money. Is that illegal? What action can be taken. We also think she was lying about the sales number since we know a lot of people who bought off of her because of the situation. Any advise?

Asked on September 20, 2016 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

She committed fraud, because she lied about a material, or important, thing (that she was donating money to help a girl who had cancer) that would have been part of people's decision whether to buy or not. Lying about something important to get people to buy from you is fraud and is illegal. You could potentially report her to the authorities (e.g. the police; the state attorney general's office) for her fraud, and anyone who bought from her could sue for the return of their money or other compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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