Schuette Issues Cease and Desist to Charity that Lied to Donors about Phone Card Program for Wounded Military

Contact: Andrea Bitely, Megan Hawthorne; (517) 373-8060

July 25, 2017

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced a Notice of Intended Action and Cease and Desist Order against Healing American Heroes, Inc. of Round Rock, Texas and its professional fundraiser Jeremy Squire & Associates for over a million violations of the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act. Violations included deceptive solicitations and diversion of funds raised to other purposes. Over 10,000 donations – totaling more than $200,000 – were received from Michigan donors.

"This group systematically exploited thousands in Michigan and hundreds of thousands nationwide who wanted to help wounded service members," said Schuette. "Our troops deserve better; our citizens deserve better." 

Case Background

Healing American Heroes came to the attention of the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section through an audit of its charitable solicitation registration and IRS Form 990. The Charitable Trust Section questioned certain statements on the IRS Form 990, requesting Healing American Heroes' solicitation materials for review, and requested information regarding its supposed charitable activities. The charity's responses revealed numerous violations.

In 2015, Healing American Heroes, fundraising under the name Help Our Wounded, raised $2.6 million by sending nearly five million deceptive mailings nationwide. The mailings included between one and three phone cards and made statements such as the following: 

  • Stated the “urgent” need for phone cards for wounded service members deployed in the Middle East;
  • Claimed that “EVERY one of the 50,000 soldiers STILL stationed in Afghanistan and the Middle East wants [a phone card] – and I believe they deserve them”;
  • Told individuals that Healing American Heroes’ network of military individuals would distribute the cards;
  • Asked donors to “sponsor one, two, or even three Emergency Phone Cards for as little as $10 . . .”;
  • Asked donors to return the mailed phone cards with their contribution to “sponsor” the cards.

The Notice of Intended Action alleges 1,127,590 violations against Healing American Heroes and 1,116,538 violations against professional fundraiser Jeremy Squire & Associates. It also orders the charity and the fundraiser to cease and desist these violations, giving them 21 days to resolve the matter or face a civil action in court. Concurrent with the Notice of Intended Action, the Attorney General is also issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny Healing American Heroes’ fundraising registration.

The Notice of Intended Action exhibits are available in their entirety at the following links:  Exhibits A - E, Exhibits F.1 - F.5, Exhibits.F.6 - F.10 and Exhibits G -L.

Michigan a Leading State in Fighting Charitable Solicitation Fraud

Over the last year, Attorney General Schuette’s Charitable Trust Section has ramped up its enforcement of Michigan’s law prohibiting deceptive charitable solicitations.

Below are Michigan’s six charitable solicitations fraud actions within the past year:

  1. Florida Charity to Pay Over $100K to Breast Cancer Research, and is Banned From Soliciting in Michigan for Ten Years Due to Deceptive Fundraising
  2. Utah Fundraiser to Pay $90K and Cease Michigan Solicitations Through 2020 for Fundraising Misrepresentations
  3. Schuette: Deceptive Charity to Cease Operation after Misleading Donors
  4. Schuette Files Cease and Desist Against Dearborn-based Fundraiser for Illegally Operating Clothing Donation Bins
  5. Schuette: Texas-based Fundraiser Faces 319,000 Civil Violations for Deceptively Operating Michigan Humane Society Clothing Bins
  6. Schuette Files Cease and Desist After Veterans Charity Admits to Lying to Donors Helping Michigan Vets

Charitable Solicitations Resources 

Complaints regarding charitable solicitations may be filed through the Attorney General’s online complaint form, or by mailing the Charitable Trust Section at P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, MI 48909-7714, or by emailing the Charitable Trust Section.

To assist individuals in making wise decisions regarding which charitable donations to support, Attorney General Schuette established an online searchable database for charities. The Attorney General also publishes an annual professional fundraising charitable solicitation report, available on the Attorney General website. The Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section is also available at 517-373-1152 to answer inquiries about a charity.