Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 4, 2018 - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has teamed up law enforcement officials of various states and charity regulators on a new initiative to crack down on fraudulent veterans’ charities and educate the public about how to identify potential scammers.
The FTC said it took at least 100 actions against bogus charities nationwide as part of the recently launched “Operation Donate with Honor.” The charities conned donors out of millions of dollars through false promises that the donations would benefit veterans and current service members.
“Such scams involve exploiting the sentiments of people who have a strong desire to help veterans through their charitable donations,” said Florida veterans lawyer David W. Magann. “By using deceptive means to solicit donations, bogus charities create a negative impact on the many genuine charities that work hard to help veterans. These scams highlight the fact that donors must be careful to do their homework on the charities they are contributing to.”
In addition to investigating fake charities, the FTC has launched a consumer education program to help people ensure they are donating to proper charities. The agency posted various educational materials and guidance on its website about how to avoid potential scams, research charities and donate wisely.
One of the major offenders nabbed in the crackdown was Help the Vets, an organization based in Orlando, Florida. Officials said its founder Neil Paulson ran a nationwide operation that obtained around $20 million in donations from 2014 through 2017 using telemarketing calls and mailings. According to the FTC, Help the Vets spent 95 percent of every donation on fundraising and administrative costs, as well as Paulson’s salary and benefits.
The FTC and attorneys general in Florida, California and several other states filed a complaint against Help the Vets for falsely promising people their donations would be used to pay for medical care for veterans. Under a settlement agreement, Help the Vets will pay its remaining funds of more than $72,000 to court-approved veterans charities. Paulson is also required to make a $1.75 million contribution to at least one legitimate charity. Officials said Help the Vets used several different names including Military Families of America and American Disabled Veterans Foundation.
The FTC also charged Veterans of America with making millions of illegal robocalls to urge people to donate valuable items such as vehicles, boats and property. Other fraudulent charities facing legal action include Veterans Relief Association, Operation Troop Aid and Healing American Heroes.
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618