‘Care package’ company shuts down in scam settlement

CHARLESTON — A company that the attorneys general from West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania said misled contributors about sending care packages overseas to U.S. troops has been shut down in a settlement with the states.

Hearts 2 Heroes, based in Bunker Hill, W.Va., doing business as Active Duty Support Services, 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, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.

“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.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said the company, in addition to skimming donations for itself, never sent the packages or were to military bases in the states. Virginia led the multi-state investigation.

The settlement includes a ban on the two owners — identified as Christopher and Kayla Engle of Berkeley County in an agreement with the attorney general of West Virginia — from engaging in charitable solicitations or working for a charitable organization, dissolution of the business, a restitution of $286,959.95 that will be suspended but enforced if other terms of the settlement are not complied with, Herring said. The states also will receive a total of $10,000, he said.

“I hope this settlement sends a strong message to other organizations that may have similar deceptive operations that they must follow through with their promises and be honest about where their money is going,” Herring said.

A complaint against the company was filed in Henrico County (Va.) Circuit Court.

Morrisey said 514 residents in West Virginia gave checks to company representatives with 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.

Victims in West Virginia can contact the office of the attorney general at the consumer protection hotline at 800 368-8808.

“Solicitors for this sham charity went door-to-door to deceive donors, under the guise of helping members of our military,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. “This is another reminder to give wisely and remain vigilant against those who take advantage of the goodwill and generosity of donors.”