November 22, 2019

Consumer Protection Uncovers Deceptive Telemarketing Regarding Alleged Donations to Local Volunteer Firefighters

Residents in Montgomery County have been receiving deceptive telemarketing solicitations from a fictitious business seeking donations to benefit local volunteer firefighters. The County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has entered into a settlement agreement with the organization making the deceptive calls, but is still urging residents to be aware that the scam has occurred and could be duplicated by others. The settlement includes provisions for scammed residents to receive refunds.

Heroes United PAC, doing business as "Volunteer Firefighters Association," reported collecting $4.6 million nationwide during the 2018 election cycle, including $1.7 million in the current cycle. Heroes United PAC and its telemarketing network of vendors used three local maildrops and engaged in caller ID spoofing to mislead consumers into believing that donations would benefit local volunteer firefighters.

More than 160 County residents thus-far have been identified as victims of the scam.

Montgomery County's OCP has entered into a settlement agreement in which Heroes United PAC agreed to immediately cease and desist from soliciting consumers in Montgomery County. As part of the settlement, Heroes United PAC will write to all consumers in Montgomery County who made donations since 2017 to offer full refunds. The agreement was signed by Matthew Greenlee and Zachary Bass on behalf of Heroes United PAC. In 2018, the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office also entered into an agreement with Heroes United PAC regarding telemarketing violations of North Dakota’s “Robo-Caller” law.

According to OCP’s research, the fraudulent business model has been, and is currently being, duplicated by other political action committees and telemarketing businesses nationwide.

According to records maintained by the Federal Elections Commission, more than 90 percent of the donations Heroes United PAC received from consumers were retained by third-party vendors who were paid by the PAC to engage in the telemarketing and solicitation activities. Less than 10 percent of the contributions from consumers was used for any so-called political action.

More information about this scam is available here.