One of the most prominent charity organizations in the Mahoning Valley is raising concerns about a local man's campaign to raise money for those impacted by the train derailment in East Palestine.

The organization calls itself the "Ohio Clean Water Fund," founded by a Leetonia man, and has raised money on behalf of the Second Harvest Food Bank.

However, the food bank said it never agreed to be a part of this. 

"This is the first time we have ever seen this type of situation and it's very disappointing," Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Iberis said. 

Iberis said people across the nation have been reaching out to notify the food bank that they received a text message to donate to the "Ohio Clean Water Fund."

The text read: "East Palestine residents are in dire need of bottled water. The Ohio Clean Water Fund is on the ground helping. Send a case of water..."

After tapping the link, donors were taken to a web page that said the fund is in a "partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley," but the food bank said that wasn't the case. 

According to the Attorney General's Office, "Ohio law does require any person or organization raising funds for a charity to obtain advance written authorization from the charity."

Iberis said what's even more concerning is that despite raising more than $140,000, only $10,000 has been donated to the food bank for its East Palestine donation fund.

"Our concern is that the money he raised is not going to the people. All of the money he raised is not [all] going to the people of East Palestine, which he alluded to, or was deceptive or not being forward with that in the solicitation," Iberis said, " The integrity of this organization is what he was using by saying that he's affiliated with second harvest food bank."

21 News reached out to the Founder of "Ohio Clean Water Fund," Mike Peppel, who said he started the organization in early March. Peppel provided documentation that shows a breakdown of money raised, acknowledging that most of the funds raised were eaten up by other costs.

He said at least 75% of donor money raised goes to other fees like "data" and "agency" fees, including over $90,000 for data alone. Peppel said that's because utilizing a texting service to raise money is costly. 

"He has victimized the donors because he was disingenuous in this solicitation, there was no collaboration or partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank," Iberis said. 

A complaint filed through the Attorney General's office shows an individual from Columbus was one of whom received a text to donate, but become concerned that the organization "does not list whether a donation is tax-deductible or not..."

Paperwork that Peppel filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's office states the fund plans to operate 501(c)(3), a type of nonprofit where donations would be tax-deductible.

Peppel told 21 News otherwise, and that he's operating as a non-profit called 501(c)(4) because he said it's quicker to organize.

The IRS said a 501(c)(4) generally does not allow people to write off donations on their taxes.

To clear the confusion, 21 News asked Peppel to provide any IRS paperwork establishing what type of non-profit he's been running. An IRS spokesperson said an organization should be able to provide that documentation upon request.

After two days, Peppel has not provided that paperwork.

Peppel told 21 News he has not kept a penny of the money and has since stopped the campaign with plans to donate more funds to the food bank.

Iberis said he's filing a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

An AG's office spokesperson said they can't confirm or deny a potential investigation, but said they do investigate complaints received.

As for the money Second Harvest has received, the AG's office said they have the right to accept the money and ask Peppel to stop using their name.