An NBC10 Investigation reveals that donation boxes collecting money to help find missing children and missing pets is not at all what it seems. And the man collecting the money admits on hidden camera that he keeps the cash for himself.
We’ve all seen them while checking out at local convenience stores. You take a piece of candy and donate money to find missing children or pets. Think they’re for charity, right? But it turns out, some are not. If you read the small print, there’s a disclaimer saying “This is not a charity."
The owner of the boxes says that protects them legally. But the Bucks County district attorney sees it differently.
“It’s theft by deception” said Bucks County DA David Heckler.
Investigators tell NBC10 they’ve confiscated dozens of candy drop boxes. All seem to come from Advanced Business Concepts, a company in South Carolina.
NBC10’s Harry Hairston and a producer took a hidden camera and met with the company’s connection in the region. Tom Holly showed off a bunch of candy drop boxes, told us how to get started and when questioned, said he gets to keep all the cash.
“You keep all the money” answered Holly. “Is it a rip-off? Hell yeah, half the (expletive) time, yeah. I’m not going to tell them the truth. I mean (expletive) I make good money.”
At a second meeting, Holly wanted to show Hairston how easy it is to collect money from the boxes. That’s when Hairston identified himself as a reporter and brought in the NBC10 cameras.
Holly now insisted the money for this missing children box was for charity.
“Whether I collect or not, I have to send them money. I have to, because I have a contract with them. So whether I collect or I don't collect they still get a check."
Holly declined to tell NBC10 how much money he sent the charity, but directed Hairston to a church sponsored organization, which said that Holly had sent them a total of $480 in the first four months of this year.
When it comes to missing pets, that’s a different story. Holly told NBC10 the dogs are not a charity at all.
We contacted Advanced Business Concepts, the company that sells the boxes. Each time we called for a comment, they promised to call us back, but never did.