Be on lookout for charity vets scam

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 18, 2018

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BEVERLY HILLS — Bogus charities that claim to benefit military veterans are a proven strategy for scammers, according to a national watch network. The scam is especially successful when targeting patriotic, older donors.

“There is a vet charity scam out there,” Beverly Hills Village Councilman Rock Abboud said. “Just verify before donating any money.”

According to American Association of Retired Persons officials, scammers often use names that sound like authentic organizations when soliciting contributions. Criminals behind these fake charities know that veterans share a bond of honor, and they use that bond to manipulate and defraud.

One such scammer, convicted and currently under appeal, recently allegedly operated two fake charities, pocketing donations that his victims believed were going to veterans, according to AARP officials. The scammer then used the personal information on the checks to steal the donors’ identities.

Potential donors should be on the lookout for charities with the word “veterans” in the organization’s name or mission statement. Before donating, donors should verify the charity name and its reputation by checking internet sites like the Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator.

Donors also should have a clear understanding of how their donations will be used, looking closely at the amount a charity spends on programs that benefit the intended recipients. Reputable and effective nonprofits spend at least 75 percent of their expenses on program services, and no more than 25 percent on fundraising and overhead, according to charity watchdogs.

Charity Watch — found at www.charitywatch.org — is a nonprofit that analyzes the financial statements of charitable organizations and rates nonprofits based on their financial transparency and spending habits, AARP officials stated.

“Residents are reminded to not provide personal information to callers who solicit them, and never agree to send money under the threat of arrest of imprisonment,” Abboud said. “Residents are discouraged from placing outgoing mail in their mailboxes, especially if it contains personal information or checks.”

“This time of the year often brings about more scams,” Beverly Hills Department of Public Safety Lt. Howard Shock said. “They are preying on the goodness of people’s hearts. (Scammers) are trying to capture some of the money that is going out to charities.

“We want to get the word out so less people are victimized,” Shock said. “We don’t recommend agreeing to any solicitations over the phone. If someone is uncertain about an organization, call our office. We can step in. We’d be happy to. Call (248)-540-3400 and press the No. 2 prompt to speak to a supervisor.”

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