After embezzlement charges were brought against a Michigan man in a fake veterans charity scam last week, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is urging donors to make sure they are fully educated about a charity before they make a donation.
On Friday, the State of Michigan Attorney General’s Criminal Division charged Neil Thrasher, 37, of West Bloomfield, MI, with establishing fake veterans charities for personal gain. One of the charities used a strikingly similar name to that of Paralyzed Veterans of America, going by the name “The Paralyzed American Veterans” and even using a logo similar to that of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
In April, Paralyzed Veterans obtained a consent judgment in a federal trademark infringement lawsuit, against Paralyzed American Veterans and its founders.
“It is important for an established charity like Paralyzed Veterans of America to protect its name and trademark because that, in turn, protects our donors and provides them with the security that their hard-earned contributions allow Paralyzed Veterans to continue serving our nation’s veterans and their families, as the organization has done for more than six decades,” said Len Selfon, Paralyzed Veterans acting general counsel.
“Paralyzed Veterans relies on generous donations from the public to achieve this mission and that generosity is based on trust earned through a legacy of service and accomplishments. PVA will not allow that trust to be undermined by the unscrupulous actions of others trying to capitalize on Paralyzed Veterans' good will and the public’s generosity,” he added.
In an effort to help consumer educate themselves before donating to any charity, Paralyzed Veterans of America recommends the following precautions:
- Ask questions about the charity: What is its mission? What are its programs? How much of funds raised goes directly to that mission or programs?
- Check its website: Does the organization have a professional website with legitimate contact information listed? Is the leadership of the organization listed, along with their backgrounds/biographies?
- Examine its financial records: Every nonprofit organization must file an IRS Form 990—the organization’s federal tax return, which must be made available to the public upon request. Is the Form 990 available on the organization’s website? If not, request a copy for review.
“Paralyzed Veterans will continue to enforce its legal rights to protect its reputation and maintain public confidence in our services and our mission. We urge donors to be vigilant and to report suspicious charities to the proper authorities,” Selfon said.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America