Showing posts with label charity fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charity fraud. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2020

Retired Major General's two charities shut down by Virginia AG


Center for Public Integrity
Sarah Kleiner Reporter
March 5, 2020

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia — The Virginia attorney general’s office has shut down two veterans charities that allegedly misused $13 million in donations from unsuspecting Americans.
An undated photo of retired Army Maj. Brian Arthur Hampton (
The Circle of Friends for American Veterans and the Center for American Homeless Veterans were the focus of a 2017 Center for Public Integrity investigation, along with Put Vets First! PAC, a related political action committee all based out of the same Falls Church office.

The organizations promised to help homeless veterans with food, shelter and job training, but they spent almost all of their money on professional telemarketers, which Public Integrity has also investigated.

As part of a settlement agreement with the state, retired Army Maj. Brian Arthur Hampton, the founder and operator of the three groups, has been permanently banned from soliciting donations and from serving any financial role for other nonprofits.

He also must split $100,000 among three charities “which provide real support” to homeless veterans, according to a news release issued today by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office. The charities are: Virginia Supportive Housing, the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation and Homes for our Troops.
read it here

Thursday, February 13, 2020

MAG-V founder collected 10-21 years for ripping off homeless veterans!

NY man convicted for stealing from homeless vets

Connecting Vets
FEBRUARY 12, 2020

New York City courts slammed Michael Erber after he defrauded the government and stole from homeless veterans.
The New York Attorney General's office said Erber, of Brooklyn, formed a non-profit organization called MAG-V, then began recruiting homeless veterans by posting fliers at homeless shelters and community centers.

Next, he signed master lease agreements with landlords in Brooklyn and the Bronx. He then sub-leased the apartments to the homeless veterans he had recruited and applied for government aid money intended to help veterans facing the risk of homelessness. Elber, however, never paid that money to the landlords, pocketing more than $67,000.

To add insult to injury, once the federal funding for homeless veterans was tapped out, Elber collected rent directly from the veterans he had moved into the apartments but again failed to pay the landlords. As a result, these veterans were evicted from their homes.

Elber also coned a disabled veteran, convincing him to invest $200,000 of his lottery winnings in MAG-V, which he also stole. According to bank records entered into evidence at the trial, the Attorney General's office showed "Erber spent more than $110,000 on rental cars and more than $41,000 to buy a car."

Judge Donald Leo in Kings County Supreme Court handed down his sentence to Michael Erber of Brooklyn this week, handing him 10-21 years.
read it here

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

GoFundMe ringleader of homeless veteran story admits guilt!

New Jersey man pleads guilty in GoFundMe scam involving Marine veteran

By: The Associated Press
21 hours ago
“Do your research, and make sure you are donating to a worthwhile cause,” Coffina said.
Mark D'Amico, left, stands with his lawyer, Mark Davis, as he pleads guilty to one count of misappropriating entrusted funds in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J., on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. — A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Friday to a state charge stemming from a scheme that raked in more than $400,000 in online donations with a phony story about a homeless man helping a stranded woman.

Mark D’Amico pleaded guilty in state Superior Court in Burlington County to misapplication of entrusted property stemming from the late 2017 scheme.

D’Amico; his ex-girlfriend, Katelyn McClure; and homeless Marine veteran Johnny Bobbitt faced state and federal charges. McClure and Bobbitt have already pleaded guilty to federal and state charges. D’Amico still faces federal wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges.
read it here

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Simpson bilked people into donating money...and goes to jail

Marine vet sentenced to 4 years in federal prison for scamming money from Gold Star mom, Marine families

Marine Corps Times
By: Shawn Snow
July 23, 2019
Court documents revealed that the victims of Simpson’s charity scam included active-duty Marines and the mother of a Marine killed in the 2015 attack on the military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Simpson was ordered to pay restitution of $141,709.44 to the victims of his charity scam, dubbed Marines and Mickey, where Simpson bilked people into donating money to help Marines and families attend Disney and Marine boot camp graduation.
Marine veteran John Shannon Simpson was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced Tuesday.

Simpson was ordered to pay restitution of $141,709.44 to the victims of his charity scam, dubbed Marines and Mickey, where Simpson bilked people into donating money to help Marines and families attend Disney and Marine boot camp graduation, the release detailed.

Sentencing was handed down by United States District Judge David C. Norton of Charleston, South Carolina, who also sentenced Simpson to three years of supervised release following his prison term, according to a press release.

Simpson will serve his prison term consecutively with a nine year state sentence for sexual assault he is already serving in Florida.
read it here

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Put Vets First shut down after putting veterans last on the to do list

Veterans' Charities, PAC Shut Doors Amid Fundraising Scrutiny
By Patricia Kime
July 8, 2019
The PAC, for example, raised $4.8 million, with the telemarketers netting $4.4 million and Hampton receiving $183,500 in salary, according to the report.
Homeless veteran. Getty Images
A Virginia-based political action committee purportedly established to support veterans' issues was disbanded Saturday amid questions over its fundraising and expense practices.

The Put Vets First! PAC filed termination paperwork Saturday with the Federal Election Commission, according to a report Monday by the Center for Public Integrity. The PAC appears to have followed the same fundraising and expense patterns as two affiliated nonprofits, all established by a retired Army Reserve major. The organizations raised millions but donated little to veterans causes or candidates.

Founded by Brian Arthur Hampton, the organizations began pulling in cash around 2013, when Hampton hired telemarketing firms to conduct fundraising. Yet according to Internal Revenue Service tax filings, the groups gave little of those earnings to veterans' causes, instead paying most of the money back to the telemarketing firms and covering administrative costs, including salaries.
read it here

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

VetMade Industries was bogus but made $6.5 million

Florida Attorney General closes bogus veterans charity following 8 On Your Side Investigation

By: Steve Andrews
Posted: Mar 06, 2019

Tampa, Fla
Florida's Attorney General shut down a Tampa based veterans charity following a series of 8 On Your Side reports which revealed VetMade Industries was bogus.

VetMade Industries claimed it provided training to unemployed disabled veterans.

An 8 On Your Side investigation exposed that while VetMade collected more than $6.5 million dollars in contributions, its doors remained closed for 5 years and it trained no one.

So what happened to all that money collected to help unemployed disabled veterans? Join me tonight at 6 for this follow up
go here for more

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Boots on Ground Founder indicted for embezzlement

Founder of veteran's non-profit arraigned on embezzlement charges

January 29, 2019

According to a federal indictment, Azevedo-Laboda used funds donated to Boots on Ground for personal bills made out to several companies, including Time Warner, First Energy, and National Fuel.
The founder of an Erie non-profit appears in federal court this morning.

Over the years, the Erie Community has gotten to know Venus Azevedo-Laboda for her work with veterans, but today, several of those veterans showed up to the hearing, many saying they're not surprised by the charges.

Azevedo-Laboda is accused of embezzling more than $7,000 from the non-profit she created, Boots on Ground.

The organization provides services to veterans transitioning back into civilian life and recovering from numerous disorders including post-traumatic stress.
read more here

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Stolen Valor Marine Dishonored Disabled Marines

Man raised money to send Marine families to Disney. He pocketed most of it, feds say

Charlotte Observer
Charles Duncan
January 11, 2019

Simpson raised about $481,000 for the charity, but spent only about $90,000 of that actually helping Marines, the feds charge.
A charity raised funds to send Marines and their families to Disney theme parks, but its founder John Simpson pocketed most of the money for himself, according to a federal indictment filed this week in South Carolina.

Simpson raised about $481,000 for the charity, but spent only about $90,000 of that actually helping Marines, the feds charge. The other $391,000 went to enriching himself, paying off his mortgage and bills, and for his then-wife’s “adult novelty business, Red Room Toys,” according to court filings.

Sherri Lydon, the U.S. Attorney in Charleston, South Carolina, accuses Simpson of lying about his military career to raise money. The indictment states he “falsely represented himself as a retired career marine with as much as 20 years of service, a retired Master Sergeant, a former Drill Instructor, and a Recon Marine.”
In fact, according to the court filing, Simpson served less than five years in the Marine Corps and was given a bad conduct discharge after going absent without leave in 1998.
read more here

Friday, November 30, 2018

$600,000 meant for veterans taken by woman who ran charity

Ex-director of DC-based military charity found guilty of fraud, tax evasion

Mike Murillo
November 29, 2018
Driscoll resigned in July 2016 after 12 years at the military charity after media reports alleging mishandling of funds. In a tax filing, the foundation reported it had "become aware of suspected misappropriations" by Driscoll totaling about $600,000 from 2006 to 2014.
FILE — Armed Forces Foundation president Patricia Driscoll is shown during an interview at the Venetian hotel-casino Sunday, May 25, 2008, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/ Ronda Churchill)
WASHINGTON — The former executive director of the now-defunct Armed Forces Foundation has been convicted Thursday by a jury of stealing from the charity that helped military veterans and their families.

Patricia Driscoll, 40, of Ellicott City, Maryland, was the executive director of the D.C.-based charity until 2015. During her 12-year tenure, federal prosecutors claimed she used money donated to the organization for herself and to pay expenses for her for-profit business.

In federal forms for the nonprofit, she is accused of falsely categorizing and having others falsely categorize money she spent on herself as money used to benefit veterans, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. She was also accused of failing to report benefits she received from fundraising, which included commissions.

While allegedly cooking the books, prosecutors said Driscoll also sent fraudulent federal forms to members of the organization’s boards and the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to cover up her crimes.

A jury found Driscoll guilty on two counts of wire fraud and tax evasion, as well as one count of first-degree fraud. She could face more than 30 years in prison when sentenced.
read more here

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Veterans Charity Accused of Using Money For Themelves

Charity for veterans' funerals faces federal investigation

Military Times
Geoff Ziezulewicz
October 10, 2018

“Personal purchases” allegedly included tattoo parlor payments, private school tuition for the Walkers’ children, $9,000 at Disney resorts, $5,000 in “food and entertainment expenses” and $7,000 to a law firm representing the couple “in connection with a dispute with the City of Norwood Young America,” according to the affidavit, which Military Times obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice.
To hear Army veteran Troy D. Walker tell it, Dog Tag Furniture’s mission to aid vets began after a service buddy killed himself and the family couldn’t afford a funeral.
The feds are investigating Troy D. Walker, an Army veteran, and his wife for allegedly pocketing proceeds and donations to their organization, Dog Tag Furniture, which raises money for veterans funerals. (Screenshot courtesy KTSP-TV)
The Department of Veterans Affairs can only provide a few hundred dollars, the Minnesota man told “Fox and Friends” on Sept. 23, 2017.

“The body was going to go unclaimed and be put in a baggie,” Walker said.

Walker recalled going into debt to help pay his friend’s funeral costs and then realized no organizations existed to solely help fund veterans' funerals.

read more here

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Bacteria feeding off the veterans we love!

Why do they do it? Why do they cheat the very people they claim are so worthy of being helped? Why do they take advantage of the fact we love our veterans?

It's easy! They do not really give a damn and frankly, we do not care enough to find out if veterans get what the group claims they need. 

What is worse, is that most of the time, the fact these groups are not delivering anything for the money they get, are masked behind some carefully chosen words to let us assume they are not some bacteria feeding off the veterans we love!
Police raid New Jersey couple's home after $400G in GoFundMe cash they raised for homeless veteran disappears
FOX News
Greg Norman

Superior Court Judge Paula Dow said the day before that McClure and D’Amico must show up in court next week for a deposition in a suit filed by Bobbitt over the whereabouts of the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for him via GoFundMe, according to Fox 29.

Bobbitt’s story went viral in late 2017 after he gave McClure his last $20 for gas when she was stranded. She set up a GoFundMe page for him, which raised $400,000.
read more here

Stop Veteran Charity Scams 
Federal Trade Commission

Published on Jul 19, 2018
Many charities do a great job supporting our nation’s veterans, but a few take advantage of people’s generosity. This video tells donors how to research charities to avoid donating to a sham charity.

The Federal Trade Commission deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American. It is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy. The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers' interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Universal K-9's head indicted for fraud

Feds: Operator of dog training school used dead person to commit $1.26 million fraud
Express News
By Guillermo Contreras
August 24, 2018

"Some of the dogs were used in the training program, which targeted military veterans. The indictment said Universal offered two courses: the K-9 handler dual-purpose detection program for $6,500 and a trainer/instructor program that charged $12,500."
According to the indictment, Croft laundered some of the ill-gotten money by paying nearly $320,000 for the property on Tradesman, and $452,789 on a luxury 2017 American Eagle 45T Motorhome.
Bradley Croft Name: CROFT, BRADLEY SID #: 496848 DOB: 09/20/1971 Date of Photo: 12/05/2013
A principal operator of a canine training business in San Antonio swindled about $1.26 million from the GI Bill program by fraudulently claiming his trainers were certified and using a dead man’s identity to further the scheme, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

The indictment said Bradley Croft, 46, submitted to the Texas Veterans Commission the names of people he claimed to be certified training instructors, but they never gave permission for him to use their names for Universal K-9’s application. One instructor who was cited had been dead for two years.

Croft is charged with eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft and two counts of money laundering.

Arrested Wednesday, Croft had his initial hearing Thursday in federal court. Over the objections of one of Croft’s lawyers, Tom McHugh, U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad ordered Croft held for a bail hearing and arraignment Tuesday.
read more here

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fake veterans charity collected millions

Just so you understand that ripping off people while claiming to be helping veterans is hurting them far beyond the ones who get caught. It is people like me who end up walking away because they cannot afford to operate anymore.

It is embarrassing to file my forms for Florida, since the IRS does not need a bottom line when you make basically nothing. Florida needs financial statements. Last year I lost over $3,000. I took in a whopping $120 for work I do 45 hours a week, with three books, over 300 videos and God knows how many posts done last year.

Most of my work is done on the phone, actually talking to veterans and families, or online. Most of the money I lost was for the cell phone.

OK, so, now maybe you get a better understanding how these people make millions for using veterans instead of helping them, and the ones actually helping, end up giving up.

We end up trapped behind the flood of fools screaming about veterans committing suicide, taking in millions and having fun pulling stunts while veterans lose hope. 

They cannot find us on Facebook or other social media sites because everyone is sharing the rumor while ignoring the end result. 

Anyway, had to get that off my chest. I have a full time job so, I can afford to do what I do. That is why it is so repulsive when people make it their full time job to rip off people by using veterans.

Fake veterans charity collected millions in donations from Ohioans
Springfield News Sun
By Max Filby - Staff Writer
July 23, 2018
One local nonprofit that has been impacted by misleading veterans charities is the Miami Valley Military Museum on the grounds of the VA Medical Center in Dayton.

WWII artifacts, including a Japanese helmet, lower right, at the Miami Valley Military History Museum located in Building 120 on the Dayton Veterans Administration campus. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
A government watchdog and six state attorneys general are taking aim at fake veterans charities, including one that collected more than $11 million from Ohioans from 2014 to 2016. A Florida-based nonprofit called “Help The Vets” was recently found to have spent less than five percent of donations on charity, with the other 95 percent going to the group’s founder and paid fundraisers, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Now, the fraudulent charity is one of several that finds itself in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general of Ohio, Florida, California, Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon. The FTC and the six attorneys general have launched a campaign called “Operation Donate with Honor” to combat giving to charities falsely claiming to be helping veterans and members of the military.
read more here

Friday, July 20, 2018

Now the news pays attention to scams using veterans?

From the Sacramento Bee
The charity’s promotions used urgent language, such as, “22 VETERANS WILL DIE EACH DAY UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING.” The number refers to Department of Veterans Affairs studies that estimate 20 to 22 veterans take their own lives every day.
“While donors dug deep into their pockets in response to pleas for assistance, Help the Vets paid its president, Neil G. Paulson, Sr. hundreds of thousands of dollars and spent more than 88 percent of every dollar donated from 2014 through 2016 ... paying for-profit fundraisers,” the injunction reads.
It looks like this has finally made national news but we're wondering why they have not bothered before the FTC decided that veterans deserved better than being used for someone else to make money off their suffering?

Here is what a Google search looks like now.

Florida-based veterans charity banned from soliciting in Minnesota Press-22 hours ago
The charity would say donations would go toward disabled and wounded veterans' medical care and solicited more than $370,000 in ...

Two veterans charities sued for misleading Washington donors

KOMO News-22 hours ago
The state is suing two charities alleging they scammed donors, who were trying to help veterans, out of as much as $5 million in a two-year ...

Virginia AG Herring going after 'phony' veteran charities

WAVY-TV-18 hours ago
RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) -- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced he is taking action against charities he says conned Virginians ...

Attorney Gen. Madigan takes action against fake veteran charities

FOX Illinois-22 hours ago
CHICAGO, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Attorney General Lisa Madigan is cracking down on fake charities claiming to help veterans. Madigan is joining ...

BBB charity arm lists safe veteran's charities, warns of misleading ... 19, 2018
Below are the charity reports on the six veteranscharities referenced by the FTC and state officials. These charities did not disclose any of the ...

Virginia lawmaker files suit claiming two veteran charities are deceptive 19, 2018
RICHMOND, Va. – Mark Herring, Virginia's Attorney General, announced Thursday morning that his office is suing two veterans charities that ...

AG Mark Herring Takes Action Against Deceptive Veterans Charities ...
Blue Virginia (press release) (blog)-Jul 19, 2018

Washington joins campaign to stop phony veteran's charities

KPUG 1170-5 hours ago
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed two lawsuits against veteran charitiesThursday, including the Spanaway-based Fallen Hero Bracelets ...

Tulsa Man Faces 20 Felony Counts in Alleged Veterans Charity Fraud

Public Radio Tulsa-Jul 19, 2018
A Tulsa man accused of running a fake veteran's charity is in jail. Jeff McDougal, 43, faces 18 felony counts of obtaining property by false ...

And that was just the first page of results.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Veterans lost within all the scams and stunts

Hope Eyes Open Before More Close
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 31, 2017

Even in one of the worst years for veterans, there had been some hope within all the scams and stunts. For all the folks out there asking for money do to absolutely nothing to prove they deserved it, people responded. They responded because they do care about our veterans. The problem is they put the spotlight on themselves and left veterans in the darkness where hope could not be found.

I wish I could say I do not judge the universe. I wish I could say that all the do-gooders out there are actually doing some good, but the majority are doing what comes easy for them.

How hard is it to talk about a number when "its an easy number to remember" even if it is not true? How hard is it to talk about a headline when they never even bothered to read the report it came from?

I've been asking that question for years. I am still waiting for an answer. Too many of them have stopped waiting for answers as hope vanished. They found people pretending to care while shutting their eyes to what veterans needed. The result was thousands of veterans shut their eyes for the last time. No one gave them another reason to at least try to stay alive.
They fought for us.
(Yes I am trying to raise some money so that I can at least break even this year but we're talking about a budge of $2,500 a year. What I do is over the phone and online, little overhead but 45 hours a week worth of work. Now think about that as you read the charity frauds below.)

It has been over a decade since raising awareness became more important than doing anything to actually change the outcome. The result was billions going into charities and more veterans going into graves.

Just in this year, here are some of the self serving groups and individuals who were supported while no one thought to ask for any proof for what they claimed.

The Gregory's charities raised $782,434 between 2014-2015. None of the money was ever used for equine therapy, saving horses' lives, or supporting veterans, the lawsuit states. California

Veterans in the area, meanwhile, are disgusted knowing scammers are targeting people who support them. The scammers’ lies are hurting real veterans charities. Jason Parzy, 37, thought he'd walk away with $300 cash as he entered the Cash For Gold store in Wesley Chapel, according to investigators. Florida

Veterans in Need Foundation: In the charity’s most recent IRS filing, it reported collecting $448,000 in donations in the latest year available and almost $2.2 Million over five years. Again, Florida

It was a donation that would change everything. A Gresham man promised to contribute $425,000 to a nonprofit organization that provides gym memberships to veterans. The Beaverton-based charity, Lift For The 22, celebrated the announcement with a check presentation streamed live on its Facebook page. Oregon
After firework tent sales were over on July 8th, the tent closed down, and left. 24 days later, and neither Americans for Independent Living nor the Black Hawk County VA received a single penny in donations from Iowa Fireworks Company, which led KWWL to follow the money. Iowa 

The attorney general said some of Project VetCare’s leaders had diverted money to pay for a range of personal purposes, including a cruise vacation, a heating system for the executive director’s home, and loans and stipends for directors and their relatives.Robert Chambers, co-founder of Project VetCare, was among those named in the report. The investigation found that he used the organization’s fund to pay for a Toyota van and that his daughter had received a stipend payment. New Hampshire
Veterans shelter accused of making profit by making veterans work. North Carolina 

Madigan sued the charity after a 2015 Tribune investigation found that VietNow had raised more than $20 million between 2003 and 2014 but spent 80 percent of those donations on for-profit telemarketers. Most of the remainder went for administrative costs, the Tribune reported, leaving just a fraction of the donations for programs to help military veterans. Illinois

Telemarketers making money instead of veterans all over the country like this one. 
And recently, yet again in Florida, there was this guy.
An Ormond Beach man has been accused of running a sham veterans charity after investigators said he scammed several local businesses that had provided services for a benefit golf tournament headlined by a former NFL player.
Did anyone ask for proof from any of those groups before they wrote checks? Did anyone bother to check to see what all the "awareness raisers" were doing with the money they got? Anyone ask anyone what the result of all this was?

Love On The Rocks? Seems to say most of it. 
First, they say they want you
How they really need you
Suddenly you find you're out there
Walking in a storm
When they know they have you
Then they really have you
Nothing you can do or say
You've got to leave, just get away
We all know the song