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Local veterans charity gets money collected by scammers

Posted at 4:54 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 17:47:47-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Elmer Dinglasan gets around on two prosthetic legs pretty well these days, but it’s been a very difficult road.

The Navy veteran was severely injured in 2006 while serving in Iraq.

He said the Semper Fi and American’s Fund charity for veterans helped with his recovery in so many ways.

“They were there when I was injured. When I opened my eyes and to this day I still remember it,” Dinglasan said.

Tuesday, that charity got $125,000 from the Office of Florida’s Attorney General.

It’s just a small amount of the money authorities said was collected by a bogus veterans charity based in Palm Harbor.

The Attorney General’s office said a nationwide investigation found Associated Community Services made millions by soliciting money for veteran causes including homelessness and cancer patients.

They said the organization made nearly a billion robocalls to get the money and then kept almost all of it.

“There’s a lot of bad people out there. Unfortunately, they exist. Especially taking money out of old people in Florida. Lots of them," said Dinglasan.

Authorities have recovered some of the money through civil penalties.

But Attorney General Ashley Moody wouldn’t say anything about possible criminal charges against those involved. She did say to be careful who you donate to.

“Go to charity or to the Better Business Bureau and Look to see if there have been complaints against organizations," said Moody.

Meanwhile, Elmer is giving back to those who helped him, working with other injured veterans at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.

He said anyone who steals what was meant for injured vets belongs in jail.