“Most Wanted” Man Caught, Accused of Running Veterans’ Charity Scam

May 3, 2012; Source: WEWS-TV (Cleveland)

This week, U.S. Marshals arrested one of “America’s Most Wanted:” Bobby Thompson, who is accused of defrauding donors via a bogus charity, the United States Navy Veterans Association. According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Thompson reaped almost $2 million from donors in Ohio and additional millions from unwitting contributors in 40 more states. Federal agents apparently found close to $1 million stashed in two suitcases, and if Thompson were to be convicted, that would likely help with restitution for the alleged victims, although clearly it will not be able to cover the entirety of what was allegedly bilked from donors.

If the allegations are true, this recent case is just one more example of a troubling trend of scams involving charities purporting to help veterans. Just yesterday, NPQ’s Cohen Report pointed out that an alarming number of charity scams involve people preying on veterans and, importantly, the damage goes beyond the scams, potentially making those who would consider funding veterans’ charities wary of legitimate groups that really are doing great, critical work to help America’s servicemen and servicewomen. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Linda Spurlin-Dominik

    Glad they caught this alleged fraud. Donors need to be more careful and check out any nonprofit to determine if they are legit prior to donating these days with so many scammers especially those claiming to be helping our miitary and veterans. How can this be done. There are 3 ways,(10) go to the organizatoins website (look for links to such pages identified as Financials, Public Disclosures),(2) check with the state Secretary of State website (usually mailing address state) or by calling to verify they are registered as a nonprofit public charity; (3) visit http://www.guidestar.org and enter the organizaton’s name (or first 2 words of name) in the Search box. If the nonprofit is a legit 501c3 tax exempt organizatoin it will be listed along with a lot of good info. (Guidestar validates the organzation’s listed on their sites with the IRS). There are 2 types of pubic charity organizations (1) Has registered and approved in the state of incorporation – which allows them to define the organization is a “nonprofit” (at this point doantins to them would not be deductible to the donor unles they indicate they have filed for IRS approval as a 501c3 and should be indicated as so their website and any materials soliciting donations’ (2) Organization has registered/approved in the state of incorporation and have filed/approved by the IRS as a 501c3 tax exempt public charity organization, which allows them to define the organization as a 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit public charity, plus since as a 501c3 are required by the IRS to provide certain documents to the general public upon request, should if they don’t have already a page on their websitte where they can provide the IRS requied public disclosure documents and their Annual reports. Just saw an article in a paper about an organization helping the military community and the article said it was a “registered organizaton”, as one who checks out any organization whether as an individual thinking about donating to them or on behalf of a 501c3 nonprofit military & veteran service organization I am involved with, the terminology “registered nonprofit” doesn’t tell me anything except they apparently are registered somewhere. Another point if a potential donor can’t determine by any of the ways listed above then email the organization, ask them if they are a legit nonprofit organization and if they say donations are deductible, then ask for them to send you a copy of their IRS Determination Letter. In today’s wordl both donors and legit “nonprofits” and “501c3 nonprofits” bust properly define who they are as far as doantions are deductible as defined by the IRS regulations or not. there have thousands of organizations started since 9-11, but many of them did not do their homework, and more so since Social Media sites like Facebook have formed groups on FB asking for donations and have not done any homework as to what all needs to be done from a “legit” miitary & veteran support perspective. Hope this info will be beneficial to your readers. Respectfully, Linda Spurlin-Dominik, Founder/CEO – Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.