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Press Release

Thursday, July 19, 2018

AG Swanson Bans Deceptive "Help the Vets" Charity

Fifth Action in the Last Year to Protect Minnesotans Who Donate in Support of Veterans Taken in Connection with Nationwide Crackdown Operation Donate with Honor

Attorney General Lori Swanson today obtained a Consent Judgment permanently banning Help the Vets, Inc.—a Florida charity—and its president, Neil Paulson, from soliciting in Minnesota due to their misrepresentations that donations would be used to help disabled and wounded military veterans, when in fact, the donations primarily benefitted Paulson and the charity’s for-profit telemarketers.  This action was taken in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from five other states.

“Veterans serve our country with honor and distinction.  Outfits that take advantage of donors seeking to help veterans have no place in Minnesota,” said Swanson.  “Dubious veterans charities using deceptive solicitation practices are an increasing problem across the country and today’s action is another step in our ongoing efforts to combat this type of fraud.”

Help the Vets, Inc. (“HTV”) was founded by Paulson and operated out of his Orlando home.  It solicited more than $370,000 in donations in Minnesota.  HTV told potential donors that it would fund veterans’ medical care, operate a suicide prevention program for veterans, and offer assistance to veterans fighting cancer, among other things. 

These representations were false and deceptive.  The vast majority of HTV’s claimed “charitable” programing consisted of distributing chiropractic vouchers, which HTV received for free and that were good only at an Orlando chiropractic clinic, and hotel vouchers, which it also received for free and that were redeemable only at hotels located in Florida and Mexico.  HTV could not substantiate that it helped a single veteran through either of these voucher programs.

Operation Donate With Honor

The action taken today is part of “Operation Donate With Honor,” a nationwide crackdown by state charities regulators and the federal government on fraudulent charities claiming to help veterans.

The proceeding against HTV is the fifth action Attorney General Swanson has brought in the last year in an effort to combat the problem of suspect veterans “charities” taking advantage of Minnesotans’ generosity.  The four other proceedings are:

People may report complaints about similar situations to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787.  People may also download a Complaint Form from our website at www.ag.state.mn.us, and mailing the completed form to the Attorney General’s Office at: 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400, St. Paul, MN 55101-2131.