St. George, Utah — As reported by Southern Utah Now, a Utah man (Travis Deloy Peterson) has been indicted by a federal grand jury because for years he allegedly used millions of robocalls to urge people to donate vehicles and other valuable items by falsely claiming their donations would go to veterans’ charities and were tax-deductible. He’s been indicted by a federal grand jury on mail and wire fraud charges for operating a fraudulent charity scheme.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Between approximately April 2012 and July 2018, Peterson established and registered multiple corporate entities, including Vehicles for Veterans LLC, Medal of Honor, Act of Valor, Donate Real Estate LLC, Donate That Car LLC MI, Donate That Car LLC NV, Telefunding LLC, Tiny Towns R.E. LLC, Victims Relief LLC, Veterans of America, and Saving Our Soldiers in Nevada, Michigan and Utah. Each of these companies was purportedly a tax-exempt charitable organization that Peterson established to help veterans and their families. None of these companies, however, was an actual charity with tax exempt status. Peterson in fact never owned or operated a single charity that benefitted veterans.
A quick check at CharityCheck101.org would have been a warning to any potential donor — none of these “veterans charities” were in fact charities recognized by the IRS. We created CharityCheck101.org so you can quickly check both charity identity and tax status
Avoid Fakes. Not every group that looks, sounds or feels like a charity is truly a charity. Fake “charities” often adopt names similar to legitimate charities, siphoning off dollars needed for good works. They’re specially active around crises, natural disasters and other big news items and causes. Do a charity check to make sure the group is truly a charity.
Confirm Identity. There are more than 1.7 million organizations recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS. Their names are often similar. Similar names easily produce confusion. More than 17,000 organizations have “Veteran” in their names. More than 1,300 have “Habitat for Humanity.” More than 80 have “American Cancer.” Do a charity check to make sure you are supporting exactly the group you think.
Confirm Tax Status. Do a charity check to find the organization’s tax status. Before you give, you should know the answers to these two questions –
- Is the organization recognized as a charity or nonprofit by the IRS?
- Will a donation be deductible as a charitable contribution?