Operation Donate With Honor, a Federal Trace Commission program dedicated to combating fraudulent fundraising that claim to benefit veterans, added another bogus charity to its list of scams Wednesday morning.
Stacey and Allan Spiegel, along with their son Neal Spiegel, claimed to have founded “Healing Heroes” and “Hero Giveaways, LLC” to help wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan but an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Charitable Law Section found the family collected an estimated $525,544 between 2015-17 through deceptive sweepstakes mailers and telephone solicitations, then used the funds to line their own pockets.
“Ohioans always answer the call when our veterans need help and thought they were doing so here,” Yost said. “But this wasn’t a charity. It was a disgraceful sham and we shut it down.”
The family promised to use 100% of all donations to help wounded veterans receive medical treatments that the Department of Veterans Affairs did not readily provide, he said. Yost’s investigation found that donations were used to pay professional fundraisers; online advertising fees and personal salaries for Stacey and Neal Spiegel, who also used funds to purchase T-shirts from another family member’s business.
Wednesday’s multi-state settlement requires Healing Heroes Network, Inc., and Hero Giveaways, LLC, to permanently cease all charitable solicitations while the Spiegel family repays $95,000.
“The money will go to a veterans charity whose mission matches the representations made by Healing Heroes Network, Inc., when they were soliciting donations from the public,” Yost said.
Ten other states joined Ohio in the lawsuit including Florida (where the bogus charity was based), Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, California, Virginia and Washington.
The list of scams identified by Operation Donate With Honor includes American Disabled Veterans Foundation, National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Healing American Heroes Inc., Veterans Fighting Breast Cancer, Military Families of America, VietNow National Headquarters Inc., Foundation for American Veterans Inc., Healing Heroes Network Inc. and Help The Vets Inc.