Washington state is cracking down on deceptive charities that claim to benefit veterans. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced two lawsuits Thursday, alleging the organizations violated the Consumer Protection Act.
One of the lawsuits was filed against Spanaway-based company Fallen Hero Bracelets. Their website sells bracelets and merchandise with the names of soldiers killed in action. The company claims proceeds go to various veteran organizations, but the state says no money has ever been donated.
Ferguson's office received 11 complaints from consumers in Washington. A Spokane woman is currently in a legal battle with Fallen Hero Bracelets, separate from Thursday's lawsuit filed by Ferguson. A Vancouver man said the organization responded to complaints using vulgar language in emails.
Washington state is also suing a Florida nonprofit named Healing Heroes Network out of Florida. Ferguson's office accuses the now-defunct organization of using sweepstakes and telemarketing to raise money for war veterans, but less than one percent went to those actual charities. Ferguson is asking a judge to impose penalties of up to $2,000 per violation.
"That's not good enough under Washington state law," Ferguson said. "You can't deceive people into donating for you saying money is going to that cause and essentially virtually none of that money going to that cause."
Both lawsuits are part of Ferguson's Military and Veterans Initiative, aimed at educating service members and veterans about their rights and resources.