Approximately 18 months ago, my family thought we had found something that would help our daughter. A service dog from Animals For Autism. Instead what happened was 18 months of stress, anxiety, sadness, and even fear.
Our family and many others were pulled into a scam. A scam orchestrated by a woman, Lea Kaydus, against special needs children. I’m not going to go over every step of the scam in this post, but if you are interested, the chronological postings of what we went through can be found HERE.
Our family, along with almost all the families that we know of, attempted to bring what Animals For Autism was doing to light. We told anyone who would listen. Media, Blogs, the Attorney General and of course, Pepsi and Global Giving.
Oh, how we tried to tell Global Giving.
We presented our facts over and over.
We were brushed off. Ignored. Told that we were wrong. Told that Global Giving and Pepsi were honored to work with Lea Kaydus. Told that we just had a personal issue against her. Told that we just needed to sit down and shut up.
Told that Global Giving stood behind Animals For Autism and Lea Kaydus 100%. That they were happy with how Lea Kaydus had spent the $50,000 they gave to her. That since she “fulfilled the spirit of the grant to the best of her ability”, they felt it was all sunshine and bunnies.
Funny thing is…
When the Attorney General of Illinois saw the exact same facts that were presented to Global Giving, not only were they concerned, they were concerned enough to issue the following press release today:
For Immediate Release Media Contact: Maura Possley
August 23, 2012 312-814-3118
Follow OAG on:
MADIGAN SUES ‘ANIMALS FOR AUSTISM’ CHARITY FOR FRAUD
Attorney General: Proposed Judgment to Require Downstate Woman to Reimburse Families Waiting for Service Dogs
Springfield – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit and a proposed consent judgment against a downstate woman who cheated families across the country out of thousands of dollars in payments for service dogs to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Madigan filed her lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Glenarm resident Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism. The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Kaydus solicited donations and payments from families in Illinois and around the country to match them with specially trained dogs to serve as companions for their children. To date, Madigan said, none of the families who paid for the service has received a trained dog as promised by Kaydus.
Madigan’s lawsuit states that Kaydus’ Animals for Autism advertised it would specially train Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies for $3,000 to $8,000 and then pair the dogs with families to assist their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kaydus promised families that they initially would be introduced to their dog in person or via teleconference calls and then would receive frequent updates until the dogs were trained and ready to be placed in families’ homes.
Families in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, California and Washington sent payments to Kaydus and were led to believe over the course of several months that Kaydus was training dogs to place in their homes. In some cases, families received pictures of puppies, though those images were taken years earlier and depicted dogs that weren’t involved in Kaydus’ supposed training program. One family received a photo of a puppy that was purportedly born in 2011, though Madigan’s investigation revealed the picture was actually taken in 2007.
Madigan said Kaydus has collected at least $5,190 from families in the scheme. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act against Kaydus and her organization. The proposed consent judgment filed with Madigan’s lawsuit would require that Kaydus provide restitution to affected families.
Assistant Attorney General Melodi Green handled this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.
If you think in terms of win/lose, I think this is classified as a win.
But it feels very much like a lose. We lost 18 months. We lost our innocence. We lost our trust. We simply lost.
Thirteen families will never be the same.
Thirteen children were taken advantage of.
And not a single “I’m sorry.”
Pepsi and Global Giving, are you still honored to work with Lea Kaydus?
Chicago Tribune update story
WICS Top Story video