Wounded Warrior Project. 10 Years: a decade of service - a lifetime of commitment
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Scams Using the WWP Name Hurt Us, our Supporters, and the Warriors We're All Working to Support

 

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has recently noticed a spike in scams using the WWP name and trademarks.

Unfortunately, military families are often a target for fraud in general: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0121-charitable-solicitations-vet-military-families

The time and expense required to respond to these scams detract from our efforts on behalf of injured service members and their families. The scams can also divulge personal information that is potentially harmful to warriors, their families, and WWP supporters.

NEVER provide personal or financial information to unknown individuals. It is a federal crime for a person to pose as a WWP representative for the purpose of fraudulently soliciting, collecting, or receiving money — and we are actively addressing the concern.

 

WWP Fundraising Efforts Do Not Include:

  • Door-to-door solicitations,
  • Magazine sales,
  • Cold-call telemarketing, or
  • Storefront fundraising.

If you encounter an alleged WWP representative in ANY of these scenarios, it might be a scammer trying to gain your trust and solicit a fraudulent payment or donation.

 

Known Wounded Warrior Project Scams (Updated 10/9/14)

 

Smear Campaign and Federal Court Judgment

On Friday, June 20, 2014, the federal court hearing our case entered a judgment against Dean Graham and his organization Help Indiana Vets, Inc. (HIVI), and permanently enjoined both from making defamatory statements about WWP. What this means is that Dean acknowledged he made false and defamatory statements, the court entered a judgment accordingly, and Dean/HIVI are no longer permitted to make defamatory statements about Wounded Warrior Project. Follow the links below to view the court documents.

SUBSEQUENT ERRONEOUS FINANCIAL INFORMATION
CIRCULATING ONLINE

 

Despite the court ruling, false information continues to be circulated. There are several defamatory blogs on the internet — along with various email chains — that appear to be derived in part from a post by an individual named Alex Graham on the “Veterans Today” website, an email from Dr. Richard Stiso and a blog by a Mr. Burt Prelutsky. The Veterans Today website, in addition to hosting false information about WWP, contains other equally false and offensive content, including:

  1. A blog post indicating that President G.H.W. Bush was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,
  2. Articles written by two editors of the website alleging the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were actually carried out by the United States and Israel, and
  3. A post alleging the Sandy Hook tragedy was carried out by Mossad agents in collusion with the US Department of Homeland Security.

We find this website to be patently offensive and strongly encourage everyone to verify the source of “information” they find on the internet.

Although this content indicates the information about our financials presented therein comes from reputable sources such as GuideStar, that is a lie and the numbers have been fabricated in an effort to defame WWP. Here are a few examples of the false information contained in the email:

  1. The information falsely states that WWP had $115,199,467 in overhead expenses reported on our 2012 IRS Form 990. Our 2012 990 actually shows that WWP’s total expenses (program, admin, and fundraising) were $95,511,549. The reported $115,199,467 in overhead expenses is a made-up number. We are independently audited every year, and copies of our financial documents since our inception are easily accessible for free on our website at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/mission/financials.aspx.
  2. The information falsely indicates that WWP pays excessive compensation. The truth is that compensation for executive staff at WWP is set following IRS rules and is based on comparison data derived from industry-wide surveys and review of IRS 990s of other nonprofits who are of like size and scope. Our salaries are consistent with industry standards and, rather than being excessive, have often fallen at the lower end of compensation paid at comparable organizations.
  3. The information claims that only 3.5% of WWP’s income is being expended to directly help service members. This is patently false, which is readily verifiable. The email author uses the amount of funds WWP grants to other organizations as the basis for this falsehood, suggesting those grants represent the totality of our programs. The truth is that WWP directly operates over 19 programs and services to support warriors and their families. The vast majority of our program expenditures constitute those internally operated programs. Descriptions of our programs can be found on our website and are provided on our IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements along with a breakdown of the amount spent on each program. Again, our IRS Form 990s and audited financial statements since inception can be easily accessed for free on our website at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/mission/financials.aspx.

On the basis of the judgment against Dean Graham, we have asked the editors of the Veterans Today website to publish a retraction and remove columnist Alex Graham’s posts, which contain the false, defamatory information originally published by Dean Graham, of HIVI. To date, we have not received a response. Mr. Burt Prelutsky's blog post has since been removed from the website BernardGoldberg.com but still lives online in other places despite our best efforts to have it removed.

 

Telephone Scam

WWP has had several people graciously report a telephone scam to us. The phone number shows up as (888) 888-3011 on caller ID. Promises of cash prizes and the number (855) 345-6102 are typically given by “Eric.” Upon calling back the phone number provided by “Eric” or the number found on their caller ID, people have had those calls directed to Wounded Warrior Project. 

This may be what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) refers to as “caller ID spoofing.” WWP has contacted the FCC and it is aware of the problem and taking steps to identify the perpetrators. The FCC asks the person who actually received the call to file a complaint with the FCC. You can find out more on caller ID spoofing and file a complaint here: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/caller-id-and-spoofing

 

Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to 11 Felony Counts Filed Against Him in Charity Scam

Thank you very much, Missouri law enforcement, for your efforts to bring William Harshbarger to justice for stealing funds people thought they were donating to Wounded Warrior Project, including a 15-year-old girl who asked her friends to donate to WWP in lieu of birthday gifts and a Christian school in O’Fallon.

According to the Attorney General of Missouri, Mr. Harshbarger's sentencing hearing will be held on Monday, January 12, 2015.

 

Rolla, Missouri – Missouri National Guard Member Jailed for Pocketing Charitable Donations

Phelps County law enforcement is at work protecting WWP donors. Thank you for finding and charging this man, and very soon sentencing him.

 

Warning: Men Claiming to Be WWP Partners Fraudulently Selling T-Shirts to Military Exchanges Nationwide

Men going by the names Ryan Timothy Walker and Zarek Tucker are claiming to be partnered with “Wounded Warrior Project Tennessee” and are selling T-shirts with the WWP logo on them to military exchanges nationwide, using the alleged company name Freedom Shirts. WWP has received inquiries from several service members and the exchanges in Knoxville, San Antonio, Little Rock, Nashville, Colorado Springs, Tampa, and Belleville, Illinois. Walker and Tucker are neither partners of WWP nor authorized or licensed WWP vendors, and their sales do not benefit WWP.

WWP has reported Walker and Tucker to local authorities in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Tennessee state attorney general. The Knoxville authorities were unable to make contact with the suspects at the address listed on Freedom Shirts’ website and commented they find a lot of addresses “hijacked” that way. The investigator spoke with Ryan Walker by phone, and he claims to be in Pensacola, Florida. He denied knowing Tucker or anything about the T-shirts, but did say that he has been in the Air Force and traveled through Knoxville about three months ago.

As activities span several states, the FBI is now actively investigating the matter. 

 

Englewood, New Jersey – Two Men Charged with Scam Solicitations in the Name of WWP

Thank you, residents and law enforcement of Englewood, New Jersey, for protecting the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors by recognizing and reporting this scam. As of Friday, September 5, one of the men charged with third-degree theft by deception and third-degree wrongful impersonation remains a fugitive. Detective Capt. Timothy Torell asks anyone with information on the fugitive’s whereabouts to call Englewood police at 201.568.2711.

 

Tulsa, Oklahoma – Man Impersonates WWP Employee, Takes Money for Order of T-Shirt

Thank you, KJRH-TV in Tulsa, for spreading the word about how you can be sure you are donating to a legitimate charity.

As a reminder to our supporters, you can purchase legitimate WWP gear at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/shop and http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/wwp-collection.

 

Columbus, Ohio – Suspect Using Wounded Warrior Project to Steal Thousands of Dollars Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Thank you to local authorities in Columbus and Toledo for bringing this man to justice.

 

Fraud on Craigslist.org

WWP has been alerted about an advertisement, appearing most often on Craigslist.org, that offers job seekers and supporters an employment opportunity with WWP and requests a résumé. Persons who respond to this false opportunity receive a fraudulent check via mail in exchange for wrapping the person’s car with the WWP logo. The scammer will then ask for a MoneyGram or gift cards in return. Thus far, we have been notified of 15 states in which these ads appeared, and the authorities have found the perpetrators typically go by the names Andy Morgan and Douglas Pierce of the “Wounded Warrior Initiative” or “Wounded Warrior Concept.”

More recently, this advertisement scam has offered an employment opportunity for a "Warehouse Worker.” After a job seeker responds, the scammers say the position has been filled and direct the job seeker to the vehicle wrap "paid to drive" scam mentioned above. Unfortunately, the scammers are now using the name of WWP executive vice president John Roberts and the email address exec_drivewarriors@outlook.com.

This is NOT the real John Roberts from Wounded Warrior Project.

All legitimate WWP job opportunities are listed on our website under “Cool Careers."

The abovementioned advertisement scam now involves checks appearing to be from WWP. The checks purport to be sent from WWP and include information from legitimate financial institutions. WWP pays only its vendors, contractors, and employees, and does not send unsolicited checks in the mail. If you receive a check purporting to be from WWP and you are unsure of its origins, please contact fraudalert@woundedwarriorproject.org

 

What You Can Do

 

If you suspect fraud, immediately contact your state or local consumer protection office. It has the best available resources to investigate and prosecute these matters. You can locate your state or local office online at http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml

We’d also appreciate a heads-up! If we get several of the same alert, we can then post it to this page. Email fraudalert@woundedwarriorproject.org.

Thank you for reporting this to your local consumer protection office. It goes a long way in protecting the integrity of our brand and ability to continue the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors – of which you are now a part by helping us to report these activities. 

 

Additional Resources

 

For more on veteran and military family charitable solicitations, visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0121-charitable-solicitations-vet-military-families

You can also report any incidents of consumer fraud or deception directly to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/charityfraud or call (877) FTC-HELP.

If you believe an organization or website may not be operating for its claimed charitable purpose, contact your state attorney general or the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/

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A LIFETIME OF COMMITMENT.

For 10 years, Wounded Warrior Project® has been honoring and empowering Wounded Warriors with a wide range of services. Check out wwp10.org to learn more, share your story, and join in our yearlong recognition.

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