CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a settlement with a for-profit organization that claimed to help military servicemembers.
The multistate settlement included West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Hearts 2 Heroes Inc., which is doing business as Active Duty Support Services Inc., made door-to-door sales of "care packages," which they claimed they were sending to servicemen on behalf of Americans.
The states argued the company violated state consumer protection and charitable solicitation laws by misrepresenting the nature of the business, misrepresenting the delivery of care packages purchased and misusing donated funds.
"No company should prey upon the generosity of patriotic West Virginians who want to support our military servicemen and women," Morrisey said. "We stopped this unlawful practice to ensure no consumer is taken advantage of."
The settlement requires termination of the business and bans its owners, Kayla Engle and Christopher Engle, from ever engaging in charitable solicitations or working for a charitable organization again.
The organization's staff allegedly misrepresented themselves to consumers as veterans or volunteers. Some staff also allegedly "skimmed" cash donations for personal use.
In West Virginia, there were at least 514 residents who gave checks to company representatives.
At least 56 checks written to the business had the words "charity," "contribution" or "donation" noted in the memo section, indicating consumers clearly believed they were donating to a legitimate charity.
Morrisey alleged that the care packages were delivered to military bases in the United States and not overseas as represented if they were delivered at all.
H2H agreed to restitution in the amount of $286,959.95 for the use and benefit of, and for purposes of making refunds or restitution to, all consumers who paid money to the organization for care packages to be sent to servicemen, according to an assurance of discontinuance by the attorney general.
That amount represents $194,471.95 for Virginia consumers, $23,858.50 for West Virginia consumers, $49,828 for Maryland consumers and $18,801.50 for Pennsylvania consumers.