My dad had a good name for people like this: goniff. For the non Yiddish speakers among you, dear readers, goniff means a thief. Lowest of the low. It's an accurate term for the fraudsters targeted in the last joint FTC-state AG enforcement sweep, Operation Donate With Honor: con artists who solicited donations for veterans' charities and then pocketed the money. The defendants targeted in the 100+ plus actions conducted a variety of activities, including claiming to be collecting money for homeless and disabled vets and then keeping the money or spending almost all of it on their own salaries. The defendants used all means at their disposal: door-to-door solicitations, direct mail, robocalls, etc. The details are hair raising and can be read on the FTC press release linked below and on the FTC blog.
The enforcement actions have resulted in proposed settlements banning various individuals from charitable activities, requiring them to destroy their donor lists and to pay funds to legitimate charities.
In addition to enforcement actions, Operation Donate With Honor includes an educational initiative. The FTC and its partners, including the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO), have published tips and a new video available here to help individuals and businesses give wisely.
“Not only do fraudulent charities steal money from patriotic Americans, they also discourage contributors from donating to real Veterans’ charities,” said Peter O’Rourke, Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “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.”