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Madigan files lawsuit against fraudulent charitable telemarketers

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit against a professional fundraiser and for-profit telemarketer based in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village.

The three-count suit against Safety Publications Inc. alleges that while soliciting donations for VietNow National Headquarters, a Rockford-based charity that helps veterans overcome joblessness and post-traumatic stress disorder, the telemarketers failed to disclose they were paid fundraisers, according to a statement from Madigan’s office.

Additionally, only a fraction of the contributions Safety Publication collected actually went to pay for charitable programs, the suit alleges. The company also failed to account for its paid fundraising activities for VNH in annual financial reports filed with Madigan’s office.

Madigan has pursued Safety Publications’ owners, Adam Herman and Arthur Olivera, for violations of the Solicitation Act multiple times before, according to the statement.

“These fundraisers are brazen con artists who refuse to follow the law and continue to fundraise illegally in spite of a previous court order,” Madigan said in the statement. “I am filing this lawsuit to put an end to their serial fraud. When people donate their money to a worthy cause, their money should be used to further the mission of the charity.”

The three counts in the lawsuit allege the company misled the public as to who was making the solicitation and how the donations would be used; acted on behalf of a charity without maintaining the required registration; and failing to disclose or account for fundraising activities. It also claims the firm is violating the consent decrees its owners had previously entered into with Madigan’s office.

All three counts seek a permanent injunction against Herdman and Olivera, banning them from seeking contributing in Illinois without complying with all requirements of the Solicitation Act