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