Attorney general sues veterans’ charity, alleging deceptive fund-raising practices

The state is suing a local veterans’ charity and its professional fund-raisers for allegedly using deceptive fund-raising tactics, the attorney general’s office said today.

The charity, Bay State Vietnam Veterans Inc.. and the fund-raising company, Dynamic Marketing Solutions Inc., are accused of violating state charitable solicitation and consumer protection laws during a phone solicitation campaign.

“We allege that these defendants took advantage of the public’s trust by knowingly misleading potential donors while soliciting money for veterans,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “We allege that these organizations falsely claimed that all donations were going directly to benefit veterans when in fact a very small percentage was going to that purpose.”

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The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that during phone solicitations made by Dynamic, fund-raisers allegedly told potential donors that 100 percent of their donations would benefit veterans when only 15 percent went to support veterans. Dynamic kept 85 percent.

The lawsuit also alleges that Dynamic’s professional fund-raisers falsely claimed they were volunteers for the charity and, in some cases, stated they were veterans returning from Afghanistan, Coakley’s office said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks $5,000 in civil penalties for each deceptive act found by a court. Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders has issued a temporary restraining order barring the charity and its fund-raisers from transferring any funds they have raised and from destroying any fund-raising records.

A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 23.

A telephone message left at Bay State Vietnam Veterans in Somerset wasn’t immediately returned. John Chaves, president of the Rhode Island based-Dynamic Marketing Solutions, declined to comment.