SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a lawsuit against Little Love Rescue and Brittany Littleton, its founder and director, for misleading donors and unlawfully soliciting donations. Little Love Rescue is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that purports to rescue, rehabilitate, and provide for adoption of animals. Today’s lawsuit alleges that Ms. Littleton unlawfully solicited donations while not being registered with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts and misrepresented the condition of “rescued” animals in order to entice donations through online platforms such as littleloverescue.org, Instagram, Facebook, and GoFundMe. In addition to the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra also issued a cease and desist order against Little Love Rescue that prohibits the nonprofit from soliciting donations.
“Unfortunately, charity rip-offs abound. Brittany Littleton ran her operation for years without ever complying with the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today’s lawsuit should serve as a warning to other organizations seeking to operate as non-profits and those using social media to fundraise – don’t expect to break the law and get away with it. As for donors, please be careful, particularly when donating in response to solicitations on social media. Be aware, there are scammers out there ready to take advantage of the generosity of others. Do your research and be vigilant before donating.”
As early as 2014, Ms. Littleton began soliciting donations as Little Love Rescue despite the fact that the nonprofit was not registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, as required by law. Using social media platforms such as Instagram and crowd-source fundraising websites, Ms. Littleton launched illegal fundraising campaigns that exaggerated and misrepresented the condition of purportedly rescued animals in order to garner donations from sympathetic consumers. On one occasion, Ms. Littleton misrepresented to donors the condition of a dog named Luna, claiming that it needed spinal surgery when in fact, it did not. Additionally, Ms. Littleton misled donors by claiming that Little Love Rescue was tax exempt when it was not.
In the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra alleges that Ms. Littleton broke the law by:
The lawsuit seeks to dissolve Little Love Rescue and prevent Ms. Littleton from operating any charitable corporation, organization, or trust in California.
Charities operating in California are required to register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and are required to file annual financial reports. Prior to donating, donors are strongly encouraged to confirm that a charity is registered and current in its financial reporting by searching the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts at www.oag.ca.gov/charities.
Under the Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act, the Attorney General’s Office holds primary enforcement and supervisory powers over charities, trustees, commercial fundraisers, and other legal entities that hold or solicit donations for charitable purposes. Committed to protecting the generous donations of Californians, Attorney General Becerra has sponsored AB 2208, a bill that would provide oversight of charitable fundraising made through online platforms.