ARIZONA (Tucson News Now) - A so-called charity claiming to help veterans by selling household items at a significant markup has been shut down, according to a release from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
Telemarketers working for Happy Hands, LLC, Standing Tree, LLC, and Action Point, LLC have been accused of calling elderly people and talking them into buying garbage bags, light bulbs and even fruit cakes to support veterans.
A box of trash bags that retails between $7-$10 would cost closer to $90, but the additional dollars were never donated to help veterans, according to Brnovich.
News of a scam like this can hurt veterans organizations sincerely working to help the men and women who served their country, according to CW Hall, Commander of Disabled American Veterans Post 4. He said it can turn people off of helping veterans in general, making it more difficult for the honest groups.
"We have worked long and hard to earn the trust of the public in order that they know the money they donate goes to the veterans in various ways," said Hall.
He added that anyone who feels compelled to support veterans from something as simple as a phone call, your attention would be better focused on a local organization in southern Arizona. Hall said his books are open and he's always willing to share his proper paperwork and certifications to show DAV's authenticity.
"The more we can reach, the more we can help, the better off the community is," he said.
The companies, all owned by Robert Foster, have to pay $30,800 in consumer restitution for consumers who already filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office and up to another $75,000 for complaints filed before March 1, 2016.
That cost does not include a $120,000 civil penalty and $12,420 for the State's attorneys' fees and investigative costs. As much as $90,000 of the civil penalty could be suspended if all the monthly payments are on time.
Brnovich plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session that will help law enforcement crack down on telemarketing scammers.