The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that it was launching a federal-state education and enforcement initiative designed to crack down on fraudulent and deceptive charities that claim to provide support for veterans and their families.
Dubbed Operation Donate with Honor, the initiative will be enforced in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa and will include an educational component, which will help consumers recognize the warning signs of fraud.
“Not only do fraudulent charities steal money from patriotic Americans, they also discourage contributors from donating to real Veterans’ charities,” said Peter O’Rourke, VA’s acting secretary. “The FTC’s Operation Donate With Honor campaign will help educate citizens on how to identify organizations that misrepresent themselves as legitimate Veterans’ charities, and those who, by contrast, truly help our nation’s heroes. I commend the FTC and its state partners for taking strong action on this important issue.”
The program is designed to:
- Identify fraudulent charities
- Educate donors
- Encourage contributions to real charities
- Prosecute fraudsters
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said, “Time and again, state attorneys general have come together on matters of national importance to enforce, educate and advocate on behalf of our residents. Charities fraud of any kind is abhorrent, and veteran charities fraud is especially upsetting. This campaign will offer important resources to help donors identify charities that match their own values.”
Fraudulent veteran charities
One charity, Help the Vets, run by Neil G. “Paul” Paulson, has already been banned from collecting charitable contributions. The FTC alleges that Paulson’s charity falsely promised donation would be used to help wounded and disabled vets.
Operating under names such as American Disabled Veterans Foundation, Military Families of America, Veterans Emergency Blood Bank, Vets Fighting Breast Cancer, and Veterans Fighting Breast Cancer, Paulson falsely claimed to fund medical care, a suicide prevention program, retreats for veterans recuperating from stress, and veterans fighting breast cancer. It also falsely claimed a “gold” rating by GuideStar, which provides information about nonprofits.
For more information, visit the FTC charity webpage at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams