Tennessee State Seal
Fraudulent Fundraiser Faces $140,000 in Civil Penalties
(Published: May 13, 2010)

A Chattanooga man is facing $140,000 in civil penalties for asking area residents and businesses for donations that he falsely said would be used to help area veterans.

An investigation by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office found 28 instances in which Steven Brackett sought donations on behalf of an organization he called the American Veterans Relief Foundation. The investigation concluded that the organization did not provide food baskets or other support for veterans, as Brackett had promised donors.

The Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 against Brackett for each of the 28 violations of the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act.

Brackett, of 121 Wilcox Road in Chattanooga, was notified of the penalties by mail this week.

“I am always disappointed whenever someone tries to take advantage of the goodwill and generosity of Tennesseans,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It is particularly appalling when an individual or group tries to exploit the strong admiration Tennesseans feel toward our military veterans. While there are many legitimate and deserving groups that provide assistance to veterans, it is important for prospective donors to be on the alert for scam artists.”

Information about charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in Tennessee is available at: http://www.state.tn.us/sos/charity

To report potentially fraudulent or misleading activities by a charitable organization, call the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at (615) 741-2555 or local law enforcement authorities.