The Better Business Bureau says an organization identifying itself as the "Soldier Relief Fund" has been contacting some local businesses, asking for donations to sponsor a soldier for a one hundred dollar phone card. The consumer protection group says the founder of the fund was charged with fraud last year in connection with a charity scam in Indiana.
The BBB says it has been unable to verify that the Soldier Relief Fund is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charity, but this might be because the charity's application is pending. However, the Better Business Bureau says its has received more than 150 inquiries about the group since the start of the year, and the Soldier Relief Fund has not responded to requests to provide audit reports, tax filings,financial statements, and solicitation materials.
BBB President Charlie Mattingly says people "should think twice before giving to a charity that won't disclose financial information to the Better Business Bureau." Mattingly says its especially important not to let the patriotic frame of mind associated with the Fourth of July influence someone's decision to donate to an unknown charity that might not be legitimate.