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Van Hollen Recognizes Tomorrow as Military Consumer Protection Day
MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) join government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups in highlighting the second annual Military Consumer Protection Day, July 16, 2014, which calls attention to tips and information for military families about protecting personal information, recognizing identity theft and avoiding fraud, as well as managing money, dealing with credit and debt, and building savings.
“While all consumers can be a target of fraud - frequent deployment, separation from family and a steady check from the government can make military households a particularly attractive target for fraudsters,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “I encourage military service members, veterans and others who donate to their causes to remain vigilant in vetting the charities to which they donate, and report any suspicious charitable organizations to Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions. Those looking to illegally profit from the military service of our men and women in uniform need to be held accountable.”
Attorney General Van Hollen announced today an action to be filed in Waukesha County against Double Up, Inc., a purported charity servicing veterans. According to the complaint, the company sold coupon books that offered discounts to area businesses in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. The coupon book represented that the proceeds of the sale of the books would benefit Wisconsin disabled veterans and veteran outreach programs, and that a portion of every sale would go to a charity selected by the purchaser. In fact, after the sale of thousands of coupon books, no money was ever donated to area veterans groups. The complaint also alleges that to encourage purchases, Double Up offered three donated trips to Mexico as prizes, but then awarded those trips to friends of one of the owners of Douple Up, Brian Michaud, rather than to randomly selected purchasers.
The complaint alleges multiple statutes were violated including those governing charity solicitation, fraudulent representation and deceptive trade practices. The complaint seeks restitution for consumers who purchased coupon books, as well as forfeitures for multiple violations of consumer laws.
The Department of Justice encourages military servicemen and women, families and friends to visit www.military.ncpw.gov for free resources, tip sheets and blog posts from national consumer protection experts.
Consumer protection complaints can be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and more specifically, if they are related to a financial consumer protection issue, complaints can be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The Double Up matter was referred to the DOJ by the Better Business Bureau after receiving complaints about the companies’ practices. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara Sutherlin.