Attorney General Hunter speaks at a news conference announcing a 20 count felony indictment on a Tulsa man for charity fraud involving a veterans organization with AARP's Wayne Blackmon (left) and VFW Commander Joshua Starks at the Tulsa VFW on Thursday morning.
TULSA – Attorney General Mike Hunter was joined today by Tulsa VFW Commander Joshua Starks and AARP’s Wayne Blackmon to announce a 20-count felony indictment on a Tulsa man for his role in a charity fraud case that has defrauded around 600 individuals in Oklahoma.
An investigation has found Jeff McDougal is alleged to have solicited charitable contributions on behalf of American Oklahoma Veterans of Green Country for the purpose of assisting veterans, through his for-profit fundraising business, Cornerstone Oklahoma.
The investigation revealed a number of individuals McDougal defrauded believed they were giving to a similarly named charity called the Green Country Veterans Association.
A review of bank records and account information for American Oklahoma Veterans of Green Country show none of the funds solicited by McDougal were used to assist veterans or organizations helping veterans. The funds in the account were going to McDougal, or different accounts controlled by McDougal.
He is being charged with 18 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses for an alleged charitable purpose, one felony count of making false statements on a registration application and one count of using a name similar to another charitable organization for the purpose of deceiving the public.
Attorney General Hunter said throughout the course of the ongoing investigation, authorities have found McDougal has swindled at least 600 Oklahomans out of around $35,000.
“The evidence we collected indicates Jeff McDougal was preying on the patriotism and compassions of Oklahomans, who wanted nothing more than to see their hard earned money to go to a good cause to help veterans,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Organizations that support our veterans, like the VFW and many others provide expert-level care and resources to meet the needs of the men and women who have served our country with honor. Conducting a charity fraud is one of the lowest forms of crime and to do it in the name of our nation’s veterans is appalling. We will hold this man accountable.”
Today’s charges were filed in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement efforts around the United States in Operation Donate with Honor, a nationwide effort designed to crack down on illegitimate fundraising and charity frauds that directly affect veterans and organizations that assist veterans.
More on Operation Donate with Honor can be found, here: https://bit.ly/2zTk7LD.
“On behalf of the approximately 300,000 veterans in the state of Oklahoma, I would like to thank Attorney General Hunter for his dedication to stopping these types of scams,” Commander Starks said. “Veterans dedicate their lives to protecting our state and nation. It should be every citizen’s duty to stand and support them, not take advantage of them. These types of crimes not only hurt our mission in assisting our veterans but also fractures the confidence of the generous Oklahomans who want to ensure our care after service through their selfless donations. I am grateful that pursuing individuals who take advantage of our service members, donors and veterans is a priority.”
According to a recent study by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, veterans were twice as likely to fall victim to a scam as nonveterans.
“The only way to make a crime against the elderly more heartbreaking is to commit a crime against an elderly veteran,” Blackmon said. “The AARP stands committed to assisting the Attorney General’s Office, the VFW and all other legitimate charities in improving the health and wellbeing of Oklahomans through educational resources.”
To read the affidavit, click here.