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Tulsa Man Faces 20 Felony Counts in Alleged Veterans Charity Fraud

Tulsa County Sheriff

A Tulsa man accused of running a fake veteran’s charity is in jail.

Jeff McDougal, 43, faces 18 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses on behalf of American Oklahomans of Green Country. The Oklahoma attorney general’s office found many of McDougal’s victims thought they were giving to the legitimate Green Country Veterans Association.

"They’re targeting the very people that have raised their right hand and protected their freedom, that took the time from their family, their lives and assumed the risk to give up to their life. I can’t find the words from it," said Tulsa VFW Commander Joshua Starks.

McDougal is accused of stealing around $35,000 by soliciting donations to American Oklahoma Veterans of Green Country and using that money himself. The attorney general's office believes there are at least 600 victims, many of them either veterans themselves or related to a veteran.

"This represents an individual and groups that are out there that are taking advantage. What it also represents is that Oklahomans … are donating money to help veterans. That means the compassion and the care is there to make sure our veterans are taken care of after service," Starks said.

McDougal is also charged with one count of making false statements on a registration application and one count of using a name similar to another charitable organization to deceive the public. He could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

There are ways to avoid falling for such fraud.

"Don’t answer a phone call that you don’t identify the number from. Ever. If it’s important enough, they’ll call back," said AARP's Wayne Blackmon. "Don’t ever let anyone enter your home on the premise that they represent an organization without a pre-approved appointment from you. And never give your social security number or other information to any other individual."

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.