MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The nation’s largest nonprofit for car donations is accused of misleading the public about millions of dollars worth of donations.

The Car Donation Foundation is accused of paying $36 million to two corporations owned by the executives who managed the charity between 2011 and 2014.

Attorney General Lori Swanson says less than a quarter of the money was actually going to charity.

When Rylie Pelton came across the “Wheels For Wishes” website, she thought it was a branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She decided to donate her 1999 Chevy Prizm to the organization.

“They came the next day, it was super easy,” Pelton said.

Workers came to her house, took her old car and gave her a slip that said she would get a tax deduction.

But most of the money made off Pelton’s car went to two for-profit companies based in Minnesota.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I was upset, dismayed,” Pelton said.

Both of the companies are owned by the same owners of the Car Donation Foundation.

“About eighty percent of the proceeds Car Donation Foundation received from selling or junking these cars went to fundraising and overhead,” Swanson said.

Only 20 percent of profit made off vehicle sales went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, something Swanson says Make-A-Wish knew about.

“I would have found a different organization,” Pelton said.

Make-A-Wish Minnesota released a statement Wednesday that said they were supportive of the investigation and would cooperate.

The Car Donation Foundation told WCCO they disagree with the findings. They said the Wheels For Wishes website is clear about amounts given to charity, but they will make changes the attorney general feels are necessary.

Kate Raddatz

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