In July, California sanctioned ten veteran charities that allegedly misused millions of dollars in donations. The worst alleged offender was Help the Vets, which reportedly misused $20 million over four years and did not help veterans. According to an injunction released in July by the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission, some of Help the Vets fundraising appeals promoted a veteran suicide prevention program that did not exist. California senior assistant attorney general Tania Ibanez stated the following in regards to the injunction,
We will continue to protect veterans. We will continue to go after charities that are using veterans in order to solicit. And so for those of you that are out there that are using the names and the good works that veterans are doing for our nation, watch out. We’re looking at you, we’re going after you.
There has been a nationwide effort to crackdown on these types of deceitful organizations that manipulate the public’s goodwill for military service members. California’s injunction on Help the Vets bans the organization from soliciting charitable contributions and it must surrender its remaining $70,000 in assets. According to a settlement signed in late June, the organization’s founder, Neil G. “Paul” Paulson, Sr., must also pay $1.75 million that will be donated to legitimate veterans charities. There is a public awareness campaign called Operation with Honor that was announced by the Federal Trade Commission and the states attorneys general to teach people to recognize and avoid abusive solicitation practices. Hopefully, the crackdown on fake charities continues and people continue to donate to legitimate charities that actually follow through on their objective.