Look-Alike Charities Busted
Paralyzed American Veterans (not to be confused with Paralyzed Veterans of America) and Disabled Veterans of America (not to be confused with Disabled American Veterans) conducted telemarketing campaigns from January 2009 to April 2012 that collected over $100,000 from unwitting donors.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the funds raised by the look-alike charities were allegedly never used to aid veterans, according to a September 2012 statement from the Michigan Attorney General's office. AG Bill Schuette filed criminal charges against Neil Thrasher, the creator of the look-alike charities, who he accused of spending donations at athletic clubs, liquor stores and restaurants. Mr. Thrasher faces two felony counts of embezzlement, each punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine if he is convicted.
"Creating phony charities for personal gain violates state law and abuses the public trust. Pocketing funds that were generously donated to aid disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country is especially reprehensible," said AG Schuette.
In May of 2012 the AG halted the operations of Veterans of America VOA Foundation (aka Michigan Veterans of America VOA Foundation), another charity formed by Mr. Thrasher, according to the AG's statement. The AG's office had received multiple complaints against the charity from those solicited by the group. Some alleged that during fundraising calls the charity falsely represented that they or family members had previously agreed to make a donation. In May 2012 the AG's office sent a "cease and desist" letter to the group, alleging it had utilized deceptive or misleading fundraising practices.