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The Muskogee Phoenix, Dec. 11th, 2011

Dec. 11, 2011, noon · 0 comments

4 Oklahoma City charities join to prevent fraud

December 11, 2011

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Four nonprofit agencies in Oklahoma City have joined in an effort to prevent fraud and keep people from receiving assistance and services from more than one of the charities.

The Greater Oklahoma City Clearinghouse consists of The Salvation Army, Christmas Connection, Bethel Foundation and Skyline Urban Ministries.

"There are those that are kind of taking advantage of the system," Christmas Connection's executive director, Shelly Dutton, told The Oklahoman, "but for the most part, people are looking for help."

She said the program uses Charity Tracker computer software, which allows officials to track clients by names and birthdates. Those who signed up at more than one agency are sent back to the first charity they registered with and are not allowed to receive more aid.

Agencies pay about $185 to use Charity Tracker for a year, she said.

Christmas Connection has spotted 80 clients out of about 800 so far that already were signed up with another agency, Dutton said. About 35 of 200 clients were turned away from Skyline Urban Ministries for doubling up on charities, said Kim Parris, a site director for the Methodist charity.

"Just for this year, just for using this one program, we were able to serve 35 (more) families," Parris said.

The Bethel Foundation, which serves about 2,000 single mothers and their children, has found 25 families signed up with more than one agency this year, its founder, Lynda Powell, said.

She wishes everyone was honest, but she realizes that's not realistic and has no problem filtering out scam artists, she said.

"That's not need. That's greed," Powell said. "I have a problem with that."

Major Francina Proctor, the coordinator of women's ministries for the Central Oklahoma Area Command of The Salvation Army, said she did not know how many people had been rejected by the agency because of duplicating services. She said 1,900 families will receive help from The Salvation Army this year.

Other charities are interested in the program, Dutton said, and many have been calling to see whether it's working. She said she hopes more groups will sign on and that the system will be used for back-to-school support and Thanksgiving meals.

Here's a link to the original article.

Categories: Press

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