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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Multistate Settlement Dissolving Deceptive Veterans Charity

VietNow National Headquarters, Inc Used Deceptive Telemarketing Solicitations Falsely Claiming The Charity Funded Services, Medical Facilities, And Treatment For Veterans – But Less Than 5% of Donations Went To Any Charitable Programs

Settlement Dissolves Shell Charity, Secures Injunctive Relief, Transfers Remaining Funds to Legitimate Veterans Charities

Settlement Is Part Of AG Schneiderman’s Operation Bottomfeeder, Targeting Shell Charities That Exploit Popular Causes To Line Fundraisers’ Pockets

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced a multistate settlement that dissolves VietNow National Headquarters, Inc., an Illinois nonprofit corporation that used deceptive telemarketing solicitations falsely claiming that the charity was funding veterans services, medical facilities, and treatment in donors’ states, including New York. In fact, less than five percent of funds raised went to any charitable programs.

The settlement, joined by 24 states, requires the appointment of a receiver to dissolve VietNow. The settlement also obtains injunctive relief against VietNow’s directors and officers and requires their cooperation in investigations of VietNow’s professional fundraisers. Upon dissolution, VietNow’s remaining funds will be paid to two national and well-respected veterans charities, Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront.

“With so many New York veterans in real need, it’s galling that a so-called charity would pretend to help them in an effort to line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Operation Bottomfeeder should serve as a warning to the scammers who seek to exploit veterans, cancer patients, and other causes to make a quick buck: we will stop you. I urge all New Yorkers to give, but give wisely, by following our tips.”

  • VietNow and its officers and directors are permanently removed from controlling VietNow and a receiver is appointed to administer and dissolve VietNow.
  • VietNow is permanently enjoined from soliciting contributions from the public.
  • Defendants are required to cooperate with the receiver, and with all interested states in any present or future investigation of any professional fundraisers for VietNow during the period in question.
  • VietNow’s controlling officers or directors are permanently enjoined from serving as charitable fiduciaries or acting as professional fundraisers.
  • Upon dissolution of VietNow, the receiver will pay remaining funds to two highly-rated national veterans charities, Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront. VietNow’s assets as of May 2017 totaled approximately $545,000.

This settlement was filed by a total of 24 states, led by Michigan, Illinois, California, and Ohio, and joined by New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnestoa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

This settlement is part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s Operation Bottomfeeder, an ongoing effort that targets a pervasive business model of shell charities that exploit popular causes, the professional fundraisers who take the lion’s share of donations and make misrepresentations, and other entities who facilitate the abuses. Prior Operation Bottomfeeder investgations and settlements include the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation (whose president and founder was sentenced to jail last month) and the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation.

Attorney General Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau releases an annual “Pennies for Charities” report, revealing how charitable donations obtained by many professional fundraisers are largely spent on fundraising and administrative expenses, with only a small fraction left for charitable work. The latest Pennies for Charities report may be accessed here.

Attorney General Schneiderman encourages all New Yorkers to follow his Tips for Charitable Giving, available here.