Is money you donated going to the right place?

Is money you donated going to the right place? »Play Video
Schon Tell speaks with KATU while he was serving time for a parole violation.

You may want to give to help the homeless, but do you know where your money is going?

The KATU Problem Solvers recently noticed local charity called We Rise. A man named Schon Tell runs the charity, calling himself a minister.

Tell and another officer of the charity stand on street corners in Portland, asking for donations for a homeless shelter for veterans.

A panhandler who calls himself Van Buren often works the same corner. 

“They ask every single person that goes by, you know,” Van Buren said. “They stand here and say, 'Donate money for the homeless shelter,' and there's a little plastic deal on the ground.  People throw fives, tens, twenties in.”

The problem is that after some digging, we found out this homeless shelter for veterans doesn't exist.  And Tell, the self-proclaimed minister, has quite a history.

Tell's flyer says he needs your donations to pay for the IRS filing fees to request non-profit status, and then he can request grants to start the shelter. But it turns out, he has been collecting money to start a shelter for years.

In addition, he is listed as a predatory sex offender. He earned that status in part, according to information from Multnomah County, because he severely beat his victim, then forcibly sexually assaulted her numerous times.

The county says his victim profile is female minors and adults, both acquaintances and strangers.

Online, he writes that if you donate to his charity, he will give you a massage.

We caught up with Tell in the Multnomah County Jail. He was serving a short sentence for violating his probation by looking at pornography online.

First, he told us he was wrongly convicted of a sex crime back in 1990.

“I got arrested for a crime I didn't do,” Tell said. “That's when everything started that was bad.”

That is the same year that he started raising money for a homeless shelter.

“I've been doing this since 1990.  But I haven't been able to get the homeless people with me,” Tell said.

Tell blamed his shelter’s problems on homeless people, on other officers in the charity, and on a shadowy group that he claimed is secretly controlling the world. He said that group is preventing him from being an entrepreneur and coming up with reasons to put him in jail for probation violations.

“They just make up stuff to stop me from progressing,” Tell said. “So I have to get out and start all over again with the shelter.”

We asked Tell where the money he has raised over 22 years has gone.

“Nobody has donated,” Tell insisted. “People haven't donated money over the years. Not until this year. I've gotten money this year.”

Later, Tell admitted he had received donations, but said one of his charity officers stole money and spent it on food and concert tickets.

Tell will get out of jail soon and plans to continue raising money for the shelter that still does not exist, even after 22 years.

“I'm a die-hard.  I can't give up,” he said.

For information on the best way to give to the homeless in the Portland area, watch a special edition of KATU News Tuesday at 3 pm.