“The Wounded Warrior Fund.” Sounds legitimate, right? It sounds like an offshoot of the Wounded Warrior Project, maybe another branch of theirs that takes donations, or has a particular function separate from the rest of the organization. Right?

Think again.

Four Indiana residents have been charged with 227 counts of wire fraud, as well as mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. They were taking donations under the “Wounded Warrior Fund” and the “Wounded Warrior Foundation” names, hoping that people would mistake if for the Wounded Warrior Project. Their profits totaled up to $125,000 since 2011. According to the Secret Service, veterans did not receive a “single dollar” of this money — rather, it went to medical bills, gift cards, cash, and was even used in casinos. Physical donations (tools, jewelry, etc.) were pawned off or kept for personal use.

James Linville created the foundations, and the others involved were Amy Bennett, Thomas Johnson and Joanie Watson. The four could face 20 years behind bars each.

Josh Minkler, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, said in a statement that,

The acts of these fraudsters have eroded the trust and good will of those who want to contribute to legitimate fundraising organizations, including those that support our veterans … Our American veterans have dutifully served this country through many wars and deserve better than to be deprived of donations from giving donors.”

Linville initially pushed back hard against any allegations to this end. Several months ago, he said, “Put me in a jail, I dare you … I’ll make a mockery of your court,” he said. It would seem that the authorities aim to put that to the test.

There are a lot of legitimate veteran charities out there; do your research, don’t throw your money away. | Wikimedia Commons

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