TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced the successful conclusion of a civil lawsuit filed against a Nassau County man for unlawfully soliciting relief donations intended for Hurricane Katrina victims. Robert Moneyhan must pay $10,000 for the state’s costs of investigation and is subject to a $20,000 penalty if he violates the terms of the injunction. Moneyhan had used several Katrina-related websites to solicit donations in the aftermath of the storm, but today’s judgment signed by Nassau County Circuit Judge Brian Davis permanently prevents him from using the websites to solicit funds in the future.
As Hurricane Katrina gathered strength in the Gulf of Mexico after passing through southern Florida, Moneyhan registered domain names for websites with charitable sounding names. He created katrinahelp.com, katrinadonations.com, katrinarelief.com, katrinarelieffund.com and katrinacleanup.com, but did not file registration documents with the State to solicit donations, as required by law. Crist sued Moneyhan in September, alleging that he failed to register prior to soliciting donations and that the websites misrepresented that “100% of all donations (would be) used for relief” of storm victims. Through quick actions taken by the Attorney General’s Office and internet payment service Paypal, Moneyhan did not benefit financially from the websites.
“I am pleased we were able to resolve this matter quickly and without any Floridians losing money while attempting to do a good deed,” said Crist. “In the wake of disasters like the ones we have seen over the past two years, we must take extra precautions to protect our citizens from any fraudulent practices.”
After the lawsuit was filed, Moneyhan donated the website names for a noncommercial use. He cooperated fully with the Attorney General’s Office and agreed to today’s consent judgment and permanent injunction, which bars him from soliciting donations without first complying with the Solicitation of Contributions Act and applicable law.