Nosy Neighbor: Is there a non-profit scam going on?

L. wrote recently that she was approached on the corner of Hudson and N. Moore by a man asking her to donate to an organization that funded mammograms for the underserved. Her daughter ran into a similar group outside Whole Foods. “The guy who spoke to me was smooth and polite,” she said. “I told him I would take a card but I don’t donate on the street and already give to a breast cancer organization. The whole thing struck me as odd — three young men soliciting for mammograms for women, for an organization I never heard of. My gut is it is a scam.”

I finally spotted them yesterday, three annoyingly enthusiastic salespeople hounding me on the corner of Chambers and West Broadway in front of MedRite. I went by four times and they were really aggressive, coming in for the kill three or four times before I scuttled away.

The organization is United Breast Cancer Foundation, and a quick look on Guidestar at their Form 990 shows that they raise and spend about $29 million, with nearly $3 million going to fundraising fees and $4 million in “other fees.” They gave out $14 million in grants through their programs. The executive director and founder — Audrey S. Mastrioanni — makes about $300k, with another $400k going to other salaries. Her father and brother are both directors of the organization. The organization has also been known as the American Breast Cancer Society and United Breast Cancer.

The city does require that organizations register in order to solicit on the street; awaiting word if this one is registered. (The city is making me file a FOIL request to find out.) UPDATE: The organization does not seem to have a permit from the city to solicit on the street. From the FOIL officer at the office of legal affairs for DSS: “I write in response to your request below, emailed May 2, 2022 and now being taken as a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, seeking information on whether the United Breast Cancer Foundation is registered in order to solicit on the street. Please be advised that after a diligent search, no records responsive to your request were found.”



  1. I think this is the same group that was set up in front of Target for awhile (going by the pink table). The daily forced back and forth “sorry, no thank you….I really can’t, sorry….again, no thank you” had me change my route home from work until they moved. I ran into the same group you posted and in front of Whole Foods as well. They definitely have remarkable persistance haha!

  2. These groups are known as “chuggers”…charity muggers. Very often, little more than 10 cents of every dollar collected actually goes to the target charity.

  3. And if I’m not mistaken, the chuggers get a portion of all donations they bring in.

  4. Their tactics may be annoying, but they actually have a reasonably good score on charity navigator (the site to check before you give to any charity). Assuming I found the correct org.

  5. Just because they have posters or signage of the organization they represent does not mean they represent said organization. Its like me deciding to plop myself on chambers and west Broadway and have posters and flyer of animals in shelter stick a sign with ASPCA and collect donations which will just go to my pocket let alone have my credit card info. Sorry but not sorry this is a pass for me as it is a scam. The girl with the pink hair is so aggressive with her pitch.

    • At the very least, the organization is not registered to solicit funds on the street. An update from my FOIL request to the city: “I write in response to your request below, emailed May 2, 2022 and now being taken as a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, seeking information on whether the United Breast Cancer Foundation is registered in order to solicit on the street. Please be advised that after a diligent search, no records responsive to your request were found.”

      • I see them all the time by Target or Whole Foods, almost every day. It makes me sick that it is a sham. The worst part is that these charities are losing real donations. Things like this are making me more cynical every day.

  6. I gave a sizeable donation to solicitors for UBCF on the corner of 23rd St. and 6th Ave. Having a queasy feeIing afterwards, I contacted Amex and asked if I could cancel the gift (I could) — but also decided to write the charity to ask if they actually received my donation and what portion of it went to them: Their reply: “Thank you for reaching out to the United Breast Cancer Foundation. We did receive your $XXX Donation on May 28th at 4:38. Personal Fundraising Services is sponsoring the sweepstakes. They did not receive your money, only we do. Thank you so much for your support and meeting with one of our representatives. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.” Given UBCF’s positive evaluation by Charity Navigator (also mentioned in comments above) I decided to stick with my donation.

    • A coda to my earlier post.

      THIS IS A TOTAL SCAM. In further correspondence with UBCF, they informed me: “We do work with contracted fundraisers to help us raise critical dollars to help those in need and, as with any business, there is a cost associated with that. With regards to your generous contribution, UBCF paid 80% to our fundraiser.”

      I had my donation refunded. Do not donate!!

  7. 1000% SCAM – Why Don’t they SCRAM !!

  8. I wasn’t sure if UBCF is a legit organization, i wanted to donate. when he asked me about my name, month and year of my date of birth, phone number, home address, email address, I just answered him but when he asked me for my credit card number I had a felling that it is a scam. So at the end I didn’t donate. I’m worried that a gave So much information to him

    What should I do?

  9. This is all very confusing. I was in a good mood after completing a NYRR’s Ted Corbitt 15K Run in Central Park on December 3, 2022. I was taking the train home and ran into a young woman soliciting donations for UBCF at Penn Station. Because of my charitable spirit at the time, I decided to give. They didn’t accept cash (I had $5 on me) and they had a minimum requirement of $15 for donation, even though I had agreed to give $10. I decided to give anyway. They needed my credit card. I only had my debit card on me. They swiped it, took a picture of it (front and back) and had all of my contact information input into the tablet. I received a receipt via email immediately. But as I walked away, within 10 seconds I felt uneasy. I used my debit card and not a credit card which meant they had access to my bank account. I thought…what if they decided to deplete my account. They have all the information they need in that tablet. I called my bank immediately and thankfully they cancelled my debit card, cancelled the transaction and gave me my $15 back. I felt relief. I called UBCF to see if solicitors at the subway station was something they did but I did not get a clear answer. The representative was uncertain. I believe that UBCF needs to address this issue clearly as an institution. If they are condoning this, that’s fine but it’s not a great practice. And if a third party is doing this on their behalf, they should also be addressing it. And if it’s a 100% scam, then they should certainly let the public know not to support these solicitors. I will be writing the organization because this is out of control and a lot of people, from the kindness of their heart, could be putting money in the wrong hands. I am usually much more diligent and cautious but this person happened to catch me on a day when my guard was down. I am glad my spidey senses kicked in.

  10. They provide 3 cent on the dollar to cancer victims. So they keep 97 cent of every dollar you donate. For example, if you were to donate $100 dollars $3 dollars of that would actually go to cancer sufferers and they would keep $97 dollars. So technically they can get away with being a “Charity” but in actual effect,, they are a scamming organization.

  11. It is a known SCAM nationwide!! See this legal complaint filed in Michigan on Jan 25, 2021.