CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State is now "looking into" a local nonprofit after a FOX 46 Charlotte investigation discovered it accepted donations when it wasn't supposed to and discussed personal trips outside of the country at the nonprofit's expense.
Wings of Hope, a nonprofit that claims to help domestic violence victims, was started in April 2017 but according to the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, it was not approved to accept donations until July 17, 2017.
Still, the nonprofit held two separate fundraisers on July 8 and July 16, and accepted donations at other times.
"I feel it was fraud," prospective donor Vincent Fusco said.
Fusco owns his own contracting service and signed up to donate at Wings of Hope's fundraiser on June 23. He paid a $30 vendor fee to showcase his business at the event and purchased a required $50 gift card to be raffled off, with the money going to Wings of Hope.
A former Wings of Hope board member said its not clear if the founder, Giuseppina DiZoglio, is helping people.
"We never really knew who we were helping," former President Pauline Estrada said. "She would just say people needed help."
FOX 46 Charlotte uncovered Facebook chat logs where DiZoglio talked about taking trips across the world in the name of the nonprofit.
"We have a lot of wiggle room," she wrote. "We are allowed to go on humanitarian trips. We can go to Italy, Barcelona, etc. as long as we touch an orphanage. So the ladies that do no have passports you might want to consider getting one."
Dizoglio took out a restraining order against her former President, Estrada, claiming she "went on social media and decided to slander Wings of Hope."
Dizoglio also filed an incident report with the Union County Sheriff's Office claiming several hundred dollars was missing from the nonprofit but the U.C.S.O. said both Dizoglio and Estrada have accused each other of being responsible.
The two were scheduled to appear in court on July 21 for the restraining order but DiZoglio did not show and the case was thrown out.
FOX 46 Charlotte went to DiZoglio's home to find answers to the accusations that she brought forward.
"This nonprofit was started with my personal money, my personal money," DiZoglio said.
State records show DiZoglio spent $9,541 of her own money when starting the nonprofit. Still, this does not explain why a personal trip to Italy should fall under the nonprofit's name. DiZoglio admitted the trip was for a personal purpose.
"I have family there, I needed to go," DiZoglio said.
She denied accepting donations prior to being cleared by the state but when FOX 46 Charlotte reminded her of video evidence and conversations we had with her prior to the interview, she backtracked.
"There was donations there," she said. "Yes there was."
Wings of Hope said it has helped 10 families since it became a nonprofit in April.
FOX 46 Charlotte will continue to investigate Wings of Hope and will seek reaction from the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State.