News & Updates

 

Alleged Deceptive Solicitation

Feb 2, 2022

CA In January 2019, a settlement was reached with Giving Children Hope and its principals to resolve
claims that the charity misled the public by falsely claiming that 99% of contributions went to provide
direct aid, when in fact that percentage relied on the use of inflated valuation of gift-in-kind donations
of pharmaceuticals. As part of the settlement, the charity, directors, officers and accountant paid
$410,000 to be used for state charity enforcement, will stop providing misleading reports, and the
charity agreed to end its pharmaceutical gift-in-kind program. https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-
releases/attorneygeneral-becerra-announces-410000-settlement-giving-children-hope-after
 
IL In March 2019, Veterans Christian Network (VCN), and its founders, Todd and Priscilla Olshefski, were
sued for multiple violations of Illinois charity laws including failing to account and using charitable assets
for their own personal benefit rather than for the benefit of veterans. The Olshefskis came to Illinois
from out-of-state, and managed to quickly set up operations (i.e., obtaining 501(c)(3) status using Form
1023EZ, getting a local business to rent them office space, and getting a printing company to print
letterhead for them as a donation) to give an outward appearance to local residents that they were
legitimate. In August 2019, orders were entered in a civil case shutting VCN down and permanently
enjoining Todd and Priscilla Olshefski from fundraising and from acting as charitable fiduciaries in
Illinois. The defendants are also subject to a $28K judgment (equal to the amount of charitable
contributions shown that they deposited into VCN bank accounts but for which they could never
account). A separate criminal case was brought against each of the Olshefskis for felony theft of
charitable monies. Todd Olshefski was sentenced to three years in prison and Priscilla Olshefski was
sentenced to 180 days in jail and one year of conditional discharge.
 
MD An Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD) was obtained on March 11, 2019, resolving allegations
against Stephen D. Everhart, Lion Fundraising, Police Journal and Fire Yearbook, and Lion Fraternal
Order of Police Assistance Fund LLC. The AOD followed a 2018 cease and desist order issued after an
investigation revealed that over $1 million in donations were solicited and received by Mr. Everhart
since 2012 in violation of the Maryland Solicitations Act. Mr. Everhart allegedly posed as fake law
enforcement charities to collect donations, and failed to register with the Secretary of State as either a
charity or fundraiser before soliciting and collecting donations using a cash on delivery service.
Donations were found to be used for personal living expenses and not for a charitable
purpose. http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Press/2018/092818.pdf
 
MD A Consent Order was entered in April 2019 against CopStress, Inc. and Richard Willard. The action
was against the charity and its founder for allegedly misleading the public by claiming to operate
programs for police officers such as police academy training, rapid response teams to mass casualty
events, and licensed counseling for police suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The founder
and operator ignored a restraining order and continued to solicit donations. The order required
CopStress, Inc. and Willard to cease all charitable soliciting and turn over remaining donations to an
organization whose mission matches charitable solicitations at issue in the case.
 
MD In August 2019, a Cease and Desist Order was issued against the Animal Welfare Society of Howard
County which was supposed to raise money to take care of animals in need but was failing to do so,
falsely represented that it was a no-kill shelter, and filed false registration statements with the Secretary
of State.
 

MD In February 2020, a Cease and Desist Order was issued against Trinity Syndicates Impact (TSI) and its
sole operator, Christopher Tate aka Christopher Jefferson who pretended to be a police officer and
customs enforcement to solicit donations; used contributions for personal use instead of a charitable
purpose; and filed false registration paperwork with their registration to the Secretary of State.
 
MN In December 2019, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced court approval of two
settlement agreements that permanently banned American Federation of Police and Concerned
Citizens, Inc. (AFPCC), and related charity National Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc. (NACOP), from
soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. AFPCC was also required to pay restitution in the
amount of $298,637 — constituting every dollar that Minnesotans donated to it in the last six years.
AFPCC and NACOP’s primary officers and directors also agreed to permanently refrain from doing
business in Minnesota. In October 2018, the AGO sued AFPCC for deceiving Minnesotans in multiple
ways, including by misrepresenting that donations would only be used to help families of police officers
killed in the line of duty. However, the majority of AFPCC’s charitable program spending — 83% — went
to paying its fundraisers and other for-profit agents to send mailers with claimed “public education”
content, not providing aid to police families. The AGO also alleged that AFPCC misrepresented to donors
that their money would be set aside for families in the donor’s local city or county by advertising an
“Area Appeal” or “special campaign” for the families in a donor’s local area. In reality, donations were
used for all of AFPCC’s expenses nationwide, and were not set aside for any specific city or state.
Although NACOP was not a party to the AGO’s lawsuit, an investigation revealed that NACOP, which has
a similar mission and which is run by the same leaders as AFPCC, used similar deceptive
tactics. https://www.nasconet.org/2019/12/minnesota-attorney-general-ellison-permanently-banstwo-
charities-that-deceived-minnesotans-about-supporting-families-of-fallen-police-officers/
 
WA In May 2019, a stipulated judgment was obtained against Roy Haueter, members of the Haueter
family, their commercial fundraiser, and their four charities, which were most recently named Children’s
Hunger Relief Aid, Children’s Safety Society, Emergency Relief Network, and Search and Rescue
Charities. The defendants agreed to settle following an adverse summary judgment ruling in which the
Court found the charities violated state law and existed merely to benefit the Haueter family. The
stipulated judgment resulted in a payment of nearly $300,000, suspended penalties, dissolution of the
nonprofits, and a lifetime ban on activity in the charity/nonprofit
sector. https://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/ag-lawsuit-leads-lifetime-ban-family-who-used-
charitiesdeceive-washingtonians
 
FTC In March 2019, the FTC announced a settlement with Veterans of America (VOA). Filed as part of the
Operation Donate with Honor sweep, the complaint alleged that the principal, Travis Deloy Peterson,
made millions of unlawful robocall soliciting donations of cars, boats and other valuable items,
ostensibly to benefit veterans. The scheme used several names, including Veterans of America, Vehicles
for Veterans LLC, Saving Our Soldiers, Donate Your Car, Donate That Car LLC, Act of Valor, and Medal of
Honor. The robocalls allegedly advised consumers that donations would support veterans causes and
were tax deductible. The order settling these allegations banned Peterson from charitable solicitations
and robocalling, and included a suspended judgment of
$541,032. https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/182-3049/veterans-america