A charity claiming to raise funds to send care packages to deployed service members has been shut down for violating state charity and consumer protection laws.
According to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office, Tennessee-based Operation Troop Aid (OTA) reached an agreement with Kansas and 15 other states to resolve allegations that it mishandled funds that were donated to support its stated purpose of sending care packages to troops stationed overseas.
The agreement requires the organization to cease operating, wind down its operation and be dissolved. The agreement also bars OTA’s CEO from serving as a fiduciary or soliciting for any nonprofit organization in the future. A copy of the agreed final judgment is available online.
“This organization took advantage of Kansans’ and other Americans’ support for the members of the military,” Schmidt said. “Those responsible are being held accountable for their actions.”
OTA participated in an unlawful charity co-venture with nationwide retailer Harris Originals of New York (Harris Jewelry) and its related incorporated stores. Harris Jewelry would publicly advertise that when consumers purchased one of its teddy bears dressed in military uniforms, it would donate a specific amount of money, depending on the bear’s size, to OTA. OTA acknowledged, among other things, that it failed to ask for or receive periodic accountings from Harris of sales made, and it failed to ensure that donated monies were expended for its stated charitable purpose.
The enforcement action was part of a nationwide effort to crack down on fraudulent charities purporting to support the military and veterans, called “Operation Donate with Honor,” led by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of State Charity Officials.
The FTC and its state partners announced the launch of a new educational campaign to help consumers avoid charity scams and donate wisely. The FTC has new educational materials, including a video on how to research charities. Donors and business owners can find information to help them donate wisely and make their donations count through the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.