According to the settlement, VietNow National Headquarters Inc. will dissolve and its directors and officers will be required to cooperate in investigations of VietNow’s professional fundraisers. Any remaining VietNow funds will be paid to two national veterans charities, Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront.
The states’ investigations found that since March 2015, VietNow — which also used the name VeteransNow — had been raising money using deceptive telemarketing scripts, claiming donations would help local veterans when it had no local programs.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans, and we want to make sure that charitable donations meant to benefit veterans actually benefit veterans,” DeWine said. “Unfortunately, in this case, that wasn’t happening.”
The telemarketing scripts, which were used by professional fundraiser Corporations for Character, told potential donors that VietNow gave a minimum of 12 percent after expenses to veterans in the donor’s state or that donations helped local veterans in the donor’s state, even though VietNow had no local programs in most states. Other scripts claimed that VietNow provided “medical facilities and treatment” to veterans, even though VietNow provided no evidence that such programs existed.
In its most recent financial statement, VietNow reported raising nearly $2 million nationwide. Most of this cash was paid to fundraisers, with less than five percent of funds raised going to charitable programs.
Earlier this year, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a cease-and-desist order against VietNow for misrepresenting its charitable programs to donors, and other states started investigating, which led to the present negotiated resolution.
In Ohio, suspected charitable fraud should be reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.