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Authorities cracking down on fraudulent charities using the military's good name

HONOLULU (KHON2) - All 50 states are taking part in Operation Donate with Honor.  It's a push to combat charities that falsely promise monetary donations will directly benefit military vets and their families.

"It's really easy for me to say something like I run a non-profit for veterans that will help them with medical costs, and as soon as I say something like that it automatically sparks trust in you", says Hawaii Better Business Bureau Marketplace Manager Jason Kama.

In response, federal and state agencies around the country have taken dozens of enforcement actions against those who lie and deceive potential donors by using the military's good name.  

The federal government says in some cases monies raised went directly into the personal bank accounts of those running the charities.

In November 2017, Hawaii was part of a settlement along with 23 other states, with a charity named VietNow which raised nearly $2 million a year, claiming monies raised would help veterans.

The charity later admitted it failed to provide proper oversight of its finances and did little to help veterans.

"I think that the national and local law enforcement has really seen that as something they really need to crack down on because it's easy for people to get caught up in it and a lot of times you won't know about it until it's too late", said Kama.

Kama is quick to point out that most charities are reputable, but he says it's those that don't that are hurting everyone else.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau encourages people to check out its give.org website where they can see if a charity is registered and BBB accredited.

You should also ask how much of your donation directly benefits veterans, and watch out for names that are slightly different from well-known charities.

If you have a concern and would like to speak with an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon2.com. 


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