“I just say ‘for the vets,’ and the money comes rolling in. Mwahahaha!”
It seems like one of the most common types of charity fraud is the bogus veterans’ charity. Here. we’re not even referring to something like the Wounded Warrior Project, which basically aims to enrich insiders and professional fund-raising scamsters, but does incidentally help vets. We’re talking about scams that never help anybody but the guy collecting the money, who pockets it.
A scam charity seldom ends as it should, to wit, with indictments, trials, and prison sentences. Who’s going to investigate it? The Department of Justice is maxed out as the legal arm of the Black Criminals Lives Matter movement; the FBI has its hands full as the partisan political police, if we’re to take recent appearances of James Comey at face value.
If you’re lucky, it’s exposed by ambush journalism, but journalists are more likely to share a social milieu with the charity Ponzis and Madoffs, which is why there is the balance there is, of laudatory and cautionary ink spilled on the Wounded Warriors Foundation racket.1 That is the task of a journalist in this twenty-first century: to fellate the comfortable and micturate upon the afflicted.
So when a reporter actually does his freakin’ job, it’s a glory to behold, as in this persistent reporter for a Los Angeles TV station, facing charity scammer Jason Wirtzer, who collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fake charity that was supposedly going to teach vets to fly.
CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein asked Wirtzer how many veterans he’s been able to help through the charity.
“We’ve got about 25 in the system right now,” Wirtzer said.
“How many vets have you trained?” asked Goldstein. “None, right?”
“I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you talk to my attorney if you want,” Wirtzer replied.
Now, a guy like Wirtzer, who’s up to no good, may actually have an attorney. But it’s more likely that his “attorney” is what internet wags call a “cartooney”: the imaginary lawyer behind most internet “I’ll sic my attorney on you!” threats. Reporter Goldstein found real people ripped off by this soi-disant “charity”:
Paul Williams, a retired Army pilot, told Goldstein he still has his raffle tickets purchased, he thought, for a good cause.
Via Skype from Alaska, Williams told Goldstein he twice bought raffle tickets from Winged Warriors.
“Well, even if I didn’t win, I am still supporting troops,” he said.
Williams may not have won, but San Miguel resident Mark Donnelly told Goldstein he saw his name on the Winged Warriors Facebook page as the runner-up.
“I got a phone call saying I was the second-place winner,” said Donnelly, who added he was supposed to win a pair of pilot headsets worth $1,000 but never received them.
“Anyone that uses veterans or any other type of organization to try and run a scam to make money for themselves, that is just pretty upsetting,” Donnelly said. “It’s too bad that those type of people exist.”
Yeah, we’d support the death penalty for this, but we’d never get it past the supreme court. Social milieu and scammers, again.
The plane Donnelly and others were hoping to win was this 1975 Beechcraft Sierra , which had been put up for sale by Bob Hancock of Lake Havasu.
According to Hancock, he cut the price and agreed to sell the plane for just under $50,000 when Wirtzer offered to buy it to raise money for vets.
“I thought it was awesome,” Hancock said. “A lot of military in my family, and I’m a flight instructor and I even volunteered to give free instruction if they wanted to come out to Lake Havasu, so I was thrilled.”
But the transaction never went through after all three Winged Warriors checks bounced, meaning Wirtzer never owned the plane that claimed was being raffled off to raise money for vets.
A spreadsheet included in a lawsuit filed against Winged Warriors by the website designer who claims he was also stiffed shows nearly 4,500 tickets were sold across the U.S., bringing in almost $175,000.
According to California Franchise Tax Board, Winged Warriors is not recognized as a charity, and the Attorney General’s Office told Goldstein it’s not registered to hold raffles.
But Wirtzer was doing just that when we caught up with him a few weeks ago in Marina del Rey, this time offering another plane on the Winged Warriors website being raffled.
“Can you prove that you’ve trained 25 vets?” Goldstein asked. “You can’t, can you?
“I’d like to, I’d like to,” Wirtzer said.
“You’d like to but you haven’t, right?” replied Goldstein.
When asked if he’s scamming people, Wirtzer said: “Absolutely not.”
“You claim to be raising money for vets, you claim to be training vets, raising money for veterans,” Goldstein said. “Where’s the money going?”
“To the programs,” Wirtzer replied.
“What programs? You basically said you weren’t training vets, were you?” asked Goldstein.
At that point, Wirtzer sped off on his bicycle, pedaling away from any more questions.
Wirtzer: “Curses! Foiled again.” (File photo).
Wirtzer could learn some lessons on “brazening it out” from some of our public figures, eh.
But for Hancock and likely many others who may have been caught up in Wirtzer’s raffles, there’s no question about Wirtzer’s motives.
“He is the worst scum of the earth,” said Hancock. “I can’t imagine anybody being worse than what he has done to these veterans.”
via CBS2 Investigates Licensed Pilot Linked To Veteran Raffle Scam « CBS Los Angeles.
Note that while the guy is violating just about every charity solicitation law in the California state penal code, none of the state’s small army of regulators and cops could be bothered to look into it. Steal $175 from a 7/11, the police will at least take a report and look at the surveillance cameras. Steal $175,000 from veteran-supporters with a scam charity, and the sound of crickets is deafening. Wirtzer is exposed not by the vast resources of the multibillion-dollar state government or of the trillions-throwing tribunes of the Fed, but by some local TV station’s news shop where you can probably count the investigative reporters on your thumbs. Kudos to Dave Goldstein, for scooping the slumbering FBI.
Charity Navigator, the nonprofit watchdog, maintains a list of scam charities. (They put it a little more mildly, “Fake Charities,” and they like to say the charity has a “Donor Advisory” on it). Not surprisingly, Wirtzer’s “Winged Warriors” is on the list. The whole list is here. It has 35 soi-disant charities on it; these 10 purport or purported to be servicemembers’ or veterans’ benefit charities.
Care Package Campaign
Disabled Veterans of America
I Care Foundation
Paralyzed American Veterans
Spotlight on Heroes
United Soldiers Outreach LLC
United States Disabled Veterans
United States Handicapped-Disadvantaged
Veterans Helping Nevada Veterans
Bottom line: before you give, check Charity Navigator, and your state’s registry of charities, first. Not to mention giving the charity’s name a bing with your search engine of choice.
- For another example, consider charity racketeer and socialite Pari Livermore, who received a laudatory profile about her work as a matchmaker who fund-raises for “Spotlight on Heroes” — a nonexistent charity — in the New York Times. Written, as usual, by a reporter in her own cozy social circle — a “lifestyle” or puff-piece hack. When a reader investigated and found the charity nonexistent and Miss Livermore a fraud, the Times haughtily refused to run a correction and still continues to promote Miss Livermore and her bogus charity. Dean Baquet, then Times editor, contemptuously dismissed a critic, saying, “You will notice in the stories about this particular charity that there are some people quoted praising its work.” — in other words, testimonials offset facts, when the Times is defending one of its staff celebrity-fluffers.