Updated January 2, 2009
In late June, we learned of significant financial and operational irregularities in connection with the store operated under the Points of Light name on eBay. The eStore was operated by an independent contractor under contract since 2003 with Points of Light Foundation. In addition to her authorized activities of securing and selling donated goods online, this independent contractor also sold travel packages.
We had several customer complaints in June that led us to raise what we perceived was a business process issue with the independent contractor. But the customer complaints and our deeper exploration revealed what appeared to be significant financial and operational irregularities in the independent contractor's business practices.
We immediately terminated our relationship with the independent contractor and notified the US Attorney's office in Washington. To thoroughly investigate the matter, we also closed the eStore and suspended fulfillment of all ticket bookings with dates of origin after Tuesday, July 15, 2008.
Buyers with ticket bookings with travel origin dates prior to July 15, 2008 were provided vouchers to travel as planned. Ticket bookings for travel after July 15, 2008 were processed for refunds.
We have worked as quickly as possible to review and verify refund requests. It has been a highly structured activity, with many checks and balances. The process has been overseen by a Top 5 professional accounting firm, and we have reimbursed over 99% of all affected customers.
We deeply regret the hardship this situation is causing for affected travelers. The refund process has closed, but if you have a question regarding your purchase through the eStore, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Customer Care Center at 202-729-8198.
We are saddened and troubled that the actions of this individual could impact so many people.
We took the following steps to mitigate the impacts and investigate the situation. We:
- Immediately put a plan in place to fulfill travel through July 15 and set up a process for refunds thereafter.
- Put a customer care team in place to help mitigate the impact on all those affected by the eStore and are reaching out to them in every way available to us, including e-mail, Web site, discussion board posts and the Customer Care call center.
- Assembled a task force of business and nonprofit leaders to help oversee the investigation of this matter and create a set of recommendations for the CEO and board.
- Engaged expert legal counsel from McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP to help us respond to this issue and to conduct a thorough investigation.
- Have invited and received consultation from an expert, independent accounting firm on how best to get to the bottom of this matter.
- Have received expert counsel from travel industry experts, including CEOs of airline and travel corporations to address this matter that takes into consideration the affected travelers.
- Quickly informed our auditors at Ernst & Young of an issue under investigation.
- Received support from important stakeholders through donations and financing to ensure that we can isolate this issue from a resource perspective and assure our funders and partners that this will not affect the fulfillment of our core mission.
Like other organizations, we are not immune to the injurious actions of a single individual. But it is all the more devastating when those actions affect an enterprise that is 100% devoted to the common good.
We are profoundly sorry that this incident occurred and are committed to helping to lessen the impact on those who have been affected. We are diligently investigating the issue and will pursue all legal recourse that is available to us. We are also determined not to let these actions diminish the work of millions of volunteers across the country.
This statement is periodically updated with new information.