The Texas Attorney General has announced its shutting down a veteran’s charity organization that used little of the money it raised to help veterans in need.
According to the AG’s office, Veterans Support Organization and four of its officers raised more than $2.5 million in Texas from 2010 to 2012. However, 70% of the funds were sent to Florida, where VSO was headquartered, and Rhode Island where it was incorporated. The organization had told donors their money would benefit veterans in need.
“Donors have one thing in mind when they donate to charities: helping people in need,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The AG’s investigation also found that VSO’s “work program” for veterans was structured panhandling, whereby anyone, veteran or non-veteran, could sign on to solicit funds for VSO. Plus, their “housing program” that was designed to get homeless veterans off the streets was just a room rental to VSO’s workers who had to pay rent to VSO or be evicted.
“It is particularly outrageous that VSO cheated veterans in need of help and those good citizens who wanted to help them. Bad actors like these not only take advantage of people’s good intentions, they damage the good reputations of other charities that are operating in good faith,” said Attorney General Paxton.
Under the final judgment and permanent injunction, VSO has to withdraw their registrations and filings in Texas. The company’s officers are permanently banned from engaging in the following activities in Texas:
- Owning, operating, or managing charities, or any other entity that engages in charitable solicitations;
- Serving as a fundraiser, spokesperson, or consultant for any charitable entity;
- Assuming any position of financial authority in any veteran related charitable entity.
In addition, the settlement requires the business to clearly on their website they do not accept solicitations from Texas residents.
The court ordered VSO to pay $275,000 to distribute to support needy veterans in the local area, provide housing assistance for homeless veterans, and support volunteer services at local VA hospitals.