The Federal Trade Commission and regulators from every state in the nation announced a crackdown today on charities that pretend to aid veterans and service members.
“Not only do fraudulent charities steal money from patriotic Americans, they also discourage contributors from donating to real Veterans’ charities,” said Peter O’Rourke, Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In announcing “Operation Donate With Honor, the FTC and agencies belonging to the National Association of State Charity Officials revealed they have taken more than 100 actions against scamsters lining their own pockets with money they told donors would go to past and present military members.
In one action, the FTC and five states forced Help the Vets agree to stop asking for money.
The bogus charity which also operated under the names American Disabled Veterans Foundation, Military Families of America, Veterans Emergency Blood Bank, Vets Fighting Breast Cancer, and Veterans Fighting Breast Cancer claimed donations would go to veteran medical care.
The scamster also falsely claimed a “gold” rating by GuideStar, which provides information about nonprofits.
Another FTC action succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order against Travis Deloy Patterson who used fake veterans’ charities and illegal robocalls to get people to donate cars, boats and other things of value, which he then sold for his own benefit.
Like with Help the Vets, this pretend charity operated under a variety of aliases: including Veterans of America, Vehicles for Veterans LLC, Saving Our Soldiers, Donate Your Car, Donate That Car LLC, Act of Valor, and Medal of Honor.
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In addition to boosting enforcement, Operation Donate With Honor is increasing governmental efforts to educate would-be donors about fraudulent veteran and service member charities.
The crackdown hasn't been inspired by a surge in bogus charities of this type, but is aimed at a fraud that is an ongoing problem, FTC spokesperson Frank Dorman said.
Ted Knutson is one of the most experienced financial regulatory reporters in Washington. For years, he has covered the SEC, CFTC, the bank regulators and the key Congressional committees.