Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced Friday that a nationwide arrest warrant for identity fraud has been issued for the man claiming to be “Bobby Thompson,” director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA), a supposed charity based in Florida.
The charity- which according to Cordray has raised “tens of millions of dollars” in the past 7 years- is registered with the Arizona Department of State to solicit donations in Arizona, although BBB does not yet know how much money has been raised from Arizona consumers.
“Thompson” disappeared in June amid a growing number of state investigations into the organization’s fundraising and spending, including revelations that the man who appears to have orchestrated this sham charity made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to candidates throughout the United States.
“Our investigators have determined that this individual stole the identity of someone else and used that as the centerpiece of an apparent scam that has continued for seven years and involved tens of millions of dollars,” Cordray said. “The real Bobby Thompson, whose identity was stolen, including his Social Security number and date of birth, has absolutely no connection to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. We don’t know who this individual is yet, but we do know that he is not Bobby Thompson.”
The Ohio arrest warrant is based on evidence that “Thompson” used a false identity in the process of renting a UPS mailbox in Cincinnati in 2003. The mailbox was used as a collection point for donations to the charity.
On May 28, Cordray ordered the USNVA to stop contacting Ohio residents for contributions after determining that the group’s registration documents were plagued with irregularities. Those documents contain false and misleading information, including the names of association officers who also appear to be fictional.
In recent weeks, the Charitable Law section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has obtained court orders freezing the Ohio bank accounts of the USNVA as well as the organization’s UPS mailboxes in Hamilton and Fairfield counties.
There appears to be very little evidence that the organization spent money actually helping veterans or their families. Yet public records do show hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to various candidates made by “Bobby Thompson” personally or through the political action committee he created and to which he was the sole contributor, NAVPAC.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, USNVA raised $99.6 million between 2009 and 2002, when the organization was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. When asked to confirm the St. Petersburg Times number, a spokesperson from the Ohio States Attorney General’s Office said they haven’t finished an independent review of all of USVNA’s tax filings, but they have “no reason to doubt the newspaper’s numbers.”
In its tax filings, the organization reports an Arizona branch office located at 122 N 2nd St. #A-407, in Phoenix. A phone call placed by BBB to the USNVA’s Arizona office was not immediately returned.
Anyone with information about this individual or his whereabouts is asked to contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation at (740) 845-2224 or (800) 282-3784.
If you live in Arizona and have donated to USNVA in the past, please contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office at (800)352-8431 or www.azag.gov.
If located and arrested outside of Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General’s office will pursue extradition proceedings to have this individual returned to Ohio.
Copies of the arrest warrant, of “Bobby Thompson” and additional background materials are available at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/USNavyVetsMaterials.