Illinois officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday charging a telemarketing company with deceiving charity donors out of millions of dollars, the Chicago Tribune reports. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan accuses Chicago-based Safety Publications of using "false statements and/or material omissions" in its fundraising pitches and seeks to bar the company from soliciting for Illinois charities.
Many of the accusations center on Safety's relationship with VietNow National Headquarters, a Rockford, Ill., veterans organization. The suit alleges that the telemarketer violated state law by having callers tell prospective donors they were official representatives of VietNow and that Safety did not always submit required annual disclosure reports to the attorney general. VietNow President Joe Lewis said the charity is cooperating with the investigation.
The suit is the third filed by the state since 2002 targeting Safety and its founders, Adam Herdman and Arthur Olivera, who did not immediately respond to the Tribune's requests for comment. The latest investigation was prompted by the newspaper's August 2015 report on Safety, which asserted that the firm keeps more than 80 percent of the money it raises on behalf of nonprofits.