AG Hawley Partners with Operation Donate with Honor

Jul 19, 2018, 14:08 PM
Jul 19, 2018, 14:05 PM

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that he has partnered with the Federal Trade Commission and all state attorneys general in Operation Donate with Honor. 

Operation Donate with Honor is raising awareness about fraudulent charities. The program will educate donors about how to identify scams and encourage donors to continue giving to legitimate charities that dedicate themselves to helping our veterans and military service members. The program also highlights actions taken by the participating states against charities that falsely claim to help veterans. 

“My Office will continue to prosecute those who take advantage of others—including those who abuse the trust of Missourians seeking to do good in their communities by donating to charities claiming to assist veterans,” Hawley said. “My Office is proud to support our veterans and active military service members.” 

A PSA featuring tips for identifying fraudulent charities can be viewed here.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has taken the following actions against allegedly fraudulent veterans’ charities in the past year: 

Gold Star College for Kids Foundation, Inc.:  Attorney General Hawley filed a civil lawsuit against Harold Hogarth and the nonprofit Gold Star College for Kids Foundation, Inc. alleging that they solicited donations for scholarships for families of service members killed in action (known as Gold Star families) but failed to deliver the funds as promised to the Gold Star families. The lawsuit is currently pending in St. Charles County Court.

VietNow:  AG Hawley joined 24 other states in taking action against VietNow National Headquarters, Inc. (“VietNow”), for allegedly diverting charitable funds donated to help veterans, submitting false and inaccurate financial statements, and using false and misleading telemarketing solicitation scripts. The states’ investigation revealed that while VietNow raised millions per year nationwide in donations, the charity gave very little to the veterans for whom the funds were intended.  The States entered into a Settlement Agreement requiring VietNow to cease and desist all fundraising activities; pay restitution, penalties, and costs; and donate all remaining funds raised to Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront.  

Attorney General Hawley offers the following tips on giving wisely to veterans’ charities:

  • Do your research. Avoid charities that make emotional appeals but don’t answer your questions. For example, fraudulent veterans’ charities will often tell tales of desperately needy veterans while refusing to answer questions on how they will use donor contributions.

  • Resist impulse decisions to donate. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately.

  • Inquire about how the funds will be used. Make sure you understand how much of your donation goes directly to veteran programs. Ask about where the funds will be used, how the funds will be used, who will receive the funds and what type of veterans will the funds help.