Sunday, August 7, 2011

Complaints against a nonprofit / IRS reporting

. (actual date 8/7/12, changed to 8/7/11)

Due to the high number of complaints we have received from people about "charitable" organizations, and the personal experience we have had with some, I am posting this information in order to help others fight fraud and mismanagement in the nonprofit world.

Email complaints to

Excerpt from:
Copyright 1998 - 2012 All Rights Reserved.

How do I file a complaint against a nonprofit?

The Internal Revenue Service gives serious consideration to complaints made alleging the abuse of the tax exempt status granted to certain organizations.

When reviewing filed complaints, the IRS carefully follows special procedures designed to assure the public of the IRS’s objectivity in the treatment of tax-exempt organizations.  These procedures ensure that the IRS operates in an unbiased and appropriate manner and that its compliance programs are not improperly influenced by outside intervention.

The responsibility for administering these procedures belongs to the Exempt Organizations (EO) function, which is part of the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Operating Division.

Complaints (Referrals)
A complaint (also called a referral) is any communication alleging that a tax-exempt organization is in potential noncompliance with the tax law.  EO receives complaints from the general public, members of Congress, federal and state government agencies, as well as from other parts of the IRS.

Filing a Complaint
Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization's compliance with the Internal Revenue Code by submitting Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form.
Form 13909 and any supporting documentation may be submitted in a variety of ways.

 They can be sent via:
Mail to IRS EO Classification, Mail Code 4910DAL, 1100 Commerce St., Dallas, TX 75242-1198,
Fax to 214-413-5415, or
Email to
Submission of Form 13909 is voluntary.

How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud

(actual date 8/7/12, changed to 8/7/11),,id=121259,00.html

Tax Fraud Alerts

Criminal Investigation Badge IRS Wants You to Know About Schemes, Scams and Cons
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!" Don't become a victim to any scheme that offers instant wealth or exemption from your obligation as a United States citizen to file tax returns and/or pay taxes. Some of these schemes can literally cost you your life savings. Others can result in your prosecution and imprisonment if you knowingly participate in them.
Abusive Return Preparer
Taxpayers should be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. While most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous return preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their clients. It is important to know that even if someone else prepares your return, you are ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.
Abusive Tax Schemes
Abusive tax scheme originally took the structure of fraudulent domestic and foreign trust arrangements. However, these schemes have evolved into sophisticated arrangements to give the appearance that taxpayers are not in control of their money. However, the taxpayers receive their funds through debit/credit cards or fictitious loans. These schemes often involve offshore banking and sometimes establish scam corporations or entities.
Nonfiler Enforcement
There have always been individuals who, for a variety of reasons, argue taxes are voluntary or illegal.  The courts have repeatedly rejected their arguments as frivolous and routinely impose financial penalties for raising such frivolous arguments.  Take the time to learn the truth about frivolous tax arguments.
All Program and Emphasis Areas for Criminal Investigation
Criminal Investigation has categorized their investigative cases into specific program and emphasis areas of fraud. Examples of case summaries written from public record documents where cases were prosecuted can be viewed on the various program and emphasis area web pages.

Tax Scams - How to Recognize and Avoid Them
To help the public recognize and avoid abusive tax schemes, the IRS offers an abundance of educational materials. Participating in an illegal scheme to avoid paying taxes can result in imprisonment and fines, as well as the repayment of taxes owed with penalties and interest. Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams.


Also be aware that whisleblowing can do the right thing and "net you big bucks"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More threats from Computers for Hope

(actual date 8/7/12, changed to 8/7/11)

Update from "Computers for Hope"

I have been threatened for the second time by Don Livingston from "Computers for Hope" in Darien CT.

 Excerpt: "I have filed forms with New York and Connecticut in the U.S. and the IRS and, a charitable organization watchdog, and the BBB. This is just unbelievable behavior for a professional "nonprofit" charity to operate with. I think my refusing to deposit money into their personal account must have set off this time bomb, and endangered my personal safety. 
But criminal or abusive behavior has to stop. And it stops with me. I won't allow this go on any farther with good-hearted people being taken advantage of. Livingston said "You brought this on yourself!" as he threatened to "do me in." "I don't have a prayer." Well, we will see about that. Everyone in the United States has protection from harassment and threats, and we have the same protections in Guatemala. I am going to the courthouse tomorrow to take all necessary steps to protect myself and stop wrongdoing from happening."

Threats from "Computers for Hope"

 (actual date 8/7/12, changed to 8/7/11)

Threatened by "Computers for Hope" with legal action, but I hope to see them in court. The public needs to be aware of rip-off "charities" such as this one, as too many good-hearted people are taken advantage of by people who operate under the guise of "doing good" all the while living off the donations of others. Here's what I received today, six months after the fact:

Gmail Catherine S. Todd

accusations of fraud
3 messages

i Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM



I just saw that your post claiming fraud on the part of Computers for Hope is still on your blog.

If your blog alleging fraud is not removed or corrected as mentioned above within fifteen (15) days, I will proceed with legal action both in the US and Guatemala, as well as any and all efforts to correct this libel on the Internet.
Donald L. Livingston
Donald L. Livingston, founder
Computers for Hope

Donald L. Livingston, founder
Computers for Hope

 From: Catherine S. Todd
Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 6:31 PM

I look forward to your so-called lawsuit, as the truth will come out
in a public forum.

Never in my life have I been subjected to the kind of treatment I
recieved at the hands of you and your director, Kirk Lightfield, after
offering to donate funds to your computer program. I am still in shock
as to how you think you can operate this way.

Perhaps because you think that as a "charity" you are not required to
account for funds or treat people with respect? I don't know, but if I
have anything to say about it, it won't happen again to someone else.
It will end now.

I offered to BUY A COMPUTER FOR THE NURSING STUDENTS here in Guatemala.

You wanted to "trade" for a computer for some of our unique, special
made journal covers that we sell in the states to raise money for
medical and educational expenses for the Mayans we work with.

We pay fair trade prices for their work, unlike your employee Kirk,
who felt our prices were "too high" and that he sold journal covers
"cheaper." This, even though you would have received 50% off for
wholesale prices. But still you weren't satisfied. I said fine, I
would pay for the computer. This wasn't good enough either. You wanted
my journal covers.

Kirk was one of the rudest people I have ever dealt with, and I still
can't believe you have someone working for your organization that
treats people this way. I have the emails from him to prove it. He
"reserves the right to refuse service to anyone" is just one of the
signs he sent me. It was just unbelievable.

A charity is not a personal fiefdom, although you and Kirk seem to
think it is. I was a volunteer who was offering to donate money to buy
a computer. No more and no less, and it turned into burning me at the
stake because you didn't get what you wanted. It was beyond
ridiculous; the emails I received from both of you bordered on lunacy.

It was an impossible situation which led to me being attacked over two
full days. I don't know why I wasted my time responding, but I just
coulnd't believe that a "charitable organization" would behave this
way. But you showed your true colors.

I again offered to BUY a computer for the nursing students. I was
personally attacked by you and Kird over a two day period, until I
refused to respond any longer.

I hope you do take "legal action" against me as this will be the
public forum where your negligent and criminal actions will be
exposed. You are not listed with GuideStar as a well-run charity, and
you have not completed your IRS tax forms as a charity as required by

It appears that you and Kirk are using this charity as your own
personal cookie jar, and this needs to be brought to light. I welcome
the court and the judge seeing the facts, along with all your
volunteers and board members.

Out of more than 500 listings on our free online database of charities
and businesses in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, you were one
of five that have been operating fraudulently.

I am shocked and saddened to see this, but it will come to an end.

You do not need to wait "15 days" to proceed with "legal action." You
can do it right now and save us both some time.

See you in court. You and Kirk's days of raiding the piggy bank and
hands in the cookie jar are over. Send me the date of your proposed
court hearing in the U.S. and in Guatemala and my attorney and I will
be there.

 I will ask for damages and attorney fees, and all proceedings will be
made public and sent to your board of directors, GuideStar, IRS and
any other watchdog organization that protects the public from
fraudulent organizations and abuive people like you.

Sincerely, Catherine Todd

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.