CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - Veterans Aid From All Foreign Wars is a bogus charity, and its founder falsely claims to be a wounded veteran, Missouri's attorney general claims in court.
Attorney General Chris Koster sued the alleged charity and its founder, Matthew Buckingham, of St. Charles, in St. Louis County Court.
Veterans Aid claims its purpose is to raise funds for veterans of war from WWII to Afghanistan. It filed for incorporation in 2012, but never applied as a tax-exempt entity to the IRS, Koster says in the lawsuit.
Worse, according to the complaint, Buckingham misrepresented himself to his fund raisers as a wounded military veteran.
However, "Defendant Matthew Buckingham did not serve in the United States military, nor was he wounded during any military service," the attorney general says in the complaint.
Buckingham posted 20 job advertisements on Craigslist in January this year, seeking applications for fund raisers. The postings stated that the job was to sell raffle tickets to raise money for war veterans, according to the complaint.
"Defendant Matthew Buckingham met applicants who responded to his Craigslist postings at a bar in St. Louis County to interview them," the complaint states. "At the interviews, applicants were told that he needed saleswomen to sell raffle tickets for a veteran's benefit and that the funds would go towards purchasing laptops and other items for a local veteran's hospital."
Koster says Buckingham identified himself as Tyler Matthews during the interviews and claimed to have served in the military and that he was wounded during his service. Buckingham hired six women and offered to pay them $10 an hour or half of their ticket sales, the complaint states. He told the women to sell the tickets at St. Louis-area bars at $5 a ticket.
"Defendant Matthew Buckingham directed the saleswomen to represent to potential ticket purchasers that they would be entered into a drawing to be held on July 4, 2013 at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Cemetery to win one of three prizes: $1,000 for third place, $2,000 for second place, and $3,000 for first place," the complaint states.
But Koster says that raffle never happened. He claims that Buckingham and his saleswomen sold more than $500 in tickets, but did not record the sales and didn't record any expenses incurred during the ticket sales, including the saleswomen's compensation.
"Defendants Matthew Buckingham and Veterans Aid From All Foreign Wars did not donate any of the raffle ticket sales proceeds to veterans," the complaint states.
Koster asked the court to dissolve Veterans Aid due to Buckingham's deceptive acts and practices, failure to register and breach of fiduciary duty. He also wants Buckingham barred from operating a fraudulent charitable organization, an accounting of Veterans Aid's assets, and restitution.Follow @@joeharris_stl
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