Hank Investigates: Bogus Bracelets
What's on your wrist?
"My bracelet is for choice," one bracelet supporter said.
Millions are showing their colors.
"This is against racism and for tsunami victims," another supporter said. "To show their support for a good cause."
"I'm wearing this to support cancer research," one bracelet supporter said.
But look at the bracelets we found caught on hidden camera and on the Internet.
These bracelets are not the real deal. They're simply cashing in on causes, siphoning dollars away from legitimate charities.
"Its unconscionable that people would think of it was something they could make money off of," Debroah Forter of the Mass Breast Cancer Coalition, said.
Lance Armstrong’s yellow 'Livestrong' was the first. Its also the most ripped off:
Authentic bracelets that are one dollar each come only from authorized outlets.
"It's important for people who want to support people with cancer that they buy them from an official retailer," Michelle Milford, of the Lance Armstrong Foundation said.
Bracelet sales have raised almost $50 million for the cause. We found unscrupulous retailers using them to make big bucks for themselves.
In online shops real Livestrongs are being resold at massive markups.
What’s more, what we found in local stores were counterfeit, flat out fakes. A real bracelet has Lance Armstrong foundation, the $1 price and Nike swoosh printed on the package, and made in china on the inside. Buy a bogus bracelet and you're wearing a fashionable fraud.
"We have an aggressive legal team that is pursuing counterfeiters," Milford said.
In fact all the bracelets were just seized by the New York attorney general. These could have been sold for more than $80,000 dollars, with not one penny to charity.
"It was going to go into the pockets of somebody who is scamming the system,"
New York Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer said.
We found pink bracelets are also a business bonanza. These: "Love's army" and "Be Strong" are authentic, the profits go to breast cancer research.
Certain bracelets show no sponsor.
Our check of major charities found the real deal. Not only are the bracelets not theirs, they've never heard of them.
The money going from the sales of the bracelets could be going to someone’s salary or somebody's car payment. It's horrible," Forter said.
A certain 7 Eleven bracelet does help the USO, and a "tsunami relief" bracelet's proceeds do go to Save Our Children.
So where will your bracelet dollars go? To fundraising? Or to profiteers? Your show of support may actually be supporting a scam.
"Really it puzzles me that people can do this kind of thing and not have any conscience about it," Forter said.
To make sure you're getting an authentic bracelet, and your money is going where you want it to, be careful where you buy it.
To find out if an organization is really a non-profit charity, or for questions about charities and fund-raising, contact the MA Attorney General's Office
These are links to just some of the legitimate charitable organizations mentioned in our story selling bracelets to raise money: