Veterans group warns of phone scam

Local law enforcement officials are warning the public about a phone solicitation scam involving a person or persons trying to collect money on behalf of the Midwest Veterans Association Inc.

The association is a registered nonprofit organization. It formed to raise awareness and money to help get homeless veterans off the street.

Susan Gutterridge, the group's president and executive director, believes that the person behind the scam heard of the group because of its recent and ongoing fundraisers.

In early August, the association sponsored the third annual Thunder Ride event to benefit the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund of East Central Illinois and West Central Indiana, monitored by the Veterans Affairs Illiana Healthcare System's Homeless Veterans Program. The money is used to house homeless vets by paying their security deposit, first month's rent and/or back utility bills.

The group currently is partnering with Carmack Car Capitol in Danville to raise funds and volunteer labor to fully restore a 1954 Chevrolet 3100 truck. The "Homeward Bound patriot truck" will be raffled off at the association's Thunder Ride event in August 2014 with all of the proceeds going to the homeless veterans assistance fund.

However, the group does not do any telemarketing, Gutterridge insisted. Instead it raises money through events and community partnerships.

She learned of the scam when a friend, who lives in Champaign County, told her about a call she received to her home. The friend said a man named Tony claimed to be soliciting donations on behalf of the veterans association.

"I'm appalled," said Gutterridge, who filed a report with the Vermilion County sheriff's office on Thursday.

"It disgusts me that someone would go so low to scam off the back of our military," she continued. "I can just hear some older person saying, 'I had a brother in World War II. I want to help.' I just don't want anyone thinking they're helping get a veteran off the street, when they're not."

The association's validity can be verified through the VA Illiana Healthcare System. Rachael Dietkus Miller is the center's homeless veterans program coordinator.

Its official address is P.O. Box 238, Bismarck, IL 61814.

If anyone receives a call from someone claiming to be with the Midwest Veterans Association Inc., law enforcement officials urge them to get a phone number of the individual or record it from their Caller ID and call their local police department immediately.

Sections (2):News, Local

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

cornelia wrote on September 09, 2013 at 10:09 am
Profile Picture

I felt obligated to post because I'd like to share the dismay I felt when after giving to three callers representing different charities, I found out from Callercenter.com that they were not legit at all. They were scammers and a lot of people who reported them claimed they got fraudulent charges made on their credit card after they disclosed the card details to the callers. It's just sad that these scammers go to great lengths just to steal other people's hard-earned money.