Boulder Charity Allegedly Cheated Donors, Syrian Refugees

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Photo: Humanwire Syria aid family with receipt
Syrian families like this one often showed receipts for goods they purchased with contributions through Humanwire. But several donors say that recently, when they sent money to help with rent or other expenses, they have no record it was delivered.

The founder of a Boulder-based charity has been charged with theft and fraud, and his nonprofit faces a backlash from donors and former staff. Andrew Baron founded Humanwire to help Syrian refugees, and as he told Colorado Matters last year, it matched donors in the U.S. and elsewhere one-on-one with families in need. Now, reporting by The Denver Post has revealed a pattern of delays in delivering aid, and Baron was arrested recently on charges that he used more than $130,000 of the charity's money for his personal gain.

Investigative reporter Christopher Osher talked with numerous donors and current and former staff at Humanwire, and dug into the organization's communications and bank records to find "ballooning operating costs, organizational chaos, questionable financial practices and resignations of key personnel." Osher tells Colorado Matters, which has also confirmed the information with other donors, that at times money they sent to help certain families appears to have never been delivered, despite Baron's pledge that 100 percent of their donations would go to the Syrian families.

Baron was arrested in November and released on bail. The Boulder district attorney's office has charged him with two counts of theft and one count of charitable fraud.