Tag Archives: charity

Doubting Defenders Of Wildlife

I cringe whenever I receive mailings such as their magazine, pleas for more money, and advertising for seminars to learn how to leave them money. I already donate and they’re already in my will. I don’t need to be hit over the head a dozen times per year with their catastrophic news.

The above is from a Yelp review by Sue Ellen E.  How to contact this charity:

Web site: Defenders of Wildlife
1130 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 1-800-385-9712

April 18, 2018: There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices.  But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined.  I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Suspicious location: +1.  The address listed above is a real building.  Nothing untoward  here.

Onerous terms: +1.  None found.

Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  DOW’s privacy policy is mild compared to some web solicitations.  However,

  • If you opt in, they’ll send you email.
  • Unless you opt out, they’ll share your email with “like-minded organizations.”
  • If you send messages to government officials and agencies via DOW, those recipients may collect your personal data and use it as they see fit.

Lying and deception: -1

  • Defenders of Wildlife displays the Better Business Bureau logo.  And it is in fact a BBB “Accredited charity.
  • They also display the Charity Navigator logo.  Charity Navigator recognizes DOW, but gives it a score of only 81 or ***.  DOW’s latest released IRS form 990 is three years old.
  • DOW’s asserted use of funds doesn’t agree with Charity Navigator’s report.
  • In 2007 Charity Watch found several instances in which administrative expenses were counted as program expenses.  “The group is not spending donors’ dollars any more efficiently than it has in previous years.

A Facebook ad by Defenders of Wildlife

Obfuscation: +1.  None found.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: 0.  N/A

Overpriced: 0.  N/A

Bad service: +1.  I found no reports of this.

Total score; 5

Unauthorized charges:  I found no reports of this.  DOW accepts PayPal, a good sign.

Conclusion: Charity Navigator lists four charities with similar missions that are doing a better job.

Any ads you see below are how WordPress publishes this blog for free.  I have nothing to do with them!

Shucked by sham charity HeroRelief.org (2017)

I wrote about this outfit a year ago.  I’m saddened to see that they’re still at it–pretending to be a charity when their only beneficiary is themselves.

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: Hero Relief
Address: 1234 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
Corporate address: 7582 Las Vegas Blvd. S #115-405, Las Vegas, NV 89123
Return address: 7875 Highlands Village Place, Suite B102 #401, San Diego, CA 92129
Phone: 1-866-342-2144. Customer Service; 1.844.467.8545
Email: support@herorelief.org

Ridiculous claims: -1.  “Our vision is of a world in which all people displaced by disaster and humanitarion crises are rapidly provided with emergency aid, helping to rebuild their communities and lives. Here at American Heroes, we value innovation. We are creative in finding effective solutions and are always improving the quality of our work to make sure we deliver the best service possible. We stand by our promise to leave the world a better place than we found it.”  Notice that they don’t even claim to deliver any relief themselves.  Also that they call themselves “American Heroes;” is a name-change underway?

Suspicious location: -1.  Corporate address “7582 Las Vegas Blvd. S #115-405, Las Vegas, NV 89123” tells us that Hero Relief keeps odd company for a charity.  The address is also used by notorious scammer Shadowhawk Flashlights, as well as:

  • Defender X Tactical Pens
  • Blackhawk Flashlights
  • Electra Straightening Brush
  • Falcon Tactical Flashlights
  • Crazy Cat Giveaway
  • Electra Media
  • Bella Labs

Also, I see that it’s the favorite hangout of web scammers the world over; a UPS store.

Onerous terms: 0.  Terms of Service are relatively harmless.  However,

  • A refund takes up to 30 days.  If you signed up for monthly donations (accidentally or otherwise), they also bill you every 30 days; and you can only get one refund.  These terms seem to work together to make getting a full refund unlikely.
  • You can’t sue them, join a class action that’s suing them, or join a group arbitratrion.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll spam you.
  • They’ll share your information with other companies that will do the same.
  • If they sell their company, your personal data is part of the deal.

Lying and deception: -1

  • Charity Navigator can’t locate an organization named Hero Relief or HeroRelief.org; nor can Giving Compass.
  • Green Shield, the charity which supposedly benefits from your donation to HeroRelief.org, doesn’t come up on these charity-review websites either. It turns out that there is a Green Shield HMO in Canada; but that’s not a charity.
  • This photo’s caption implies that it shows a Hero Relief worker providing health services to children.  But nope — the photo is lifted from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
  • This photo is from Alamy Stock Photos.  Notice the text box; ‘When disaster strikes, Hero Relief is there.”  I take this to mean that the two men in green safety jackets are Hero Relief workers; they’re not.  

Obfuscation: -1.  At the foot of the page I see “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.”  This pseudo-latin phrase means nothing.  It’s just an ornamental bunch of letters.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: -1.  As far as I can tell, there is no product.

Overpriced: 0

Bad service: 0.  I’ve found no reports of this.

Total score; -5

Unauthorized charges: I’ve found no reports of this.  Hero Relief doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Don’t pour your hard-earned money down this rat-hole.  Find a real charity.  Charity Navigator’s 10 Best Charities list is a good place to start.


Charity scam; Herorelief.org

Curious about what our friends at Shadowhawk Flashlights do when they’re not plugging the Chinese answer to the lightsword, I tried googling their return address,

UPS storeShadowhawk Flashlights
7875 Highlands Village Place, Suite B102 #401
San Diego, CA 92129

What a coincidence!

herorelief.org (no link, because that would improve their Google score) uses this post office box as their corporate address!  What a surprise to discover that the flashlight guys are into good works.  Let’s take a closer look, with Google Image Search.

Near the top of the herorelief.org page is a picture of a kind man handing a package to a young mother who’s holding her little girl.  In Charisma News, a story about Red Cross volunteers helping Hurricane Sandy victims carries the same picture.  Come to think of it, the man is wearing a Red Cross hat.  Can’t herorelief.org even come up with their own hats?

man in orangeNext we see a man in an orange jacket offering a little girl a bowl.  The same image is used by Global Language Network, a EurActiv.com news story, and (this could be the source) a Shutterstock gallery labeled “Kosovar.”

I don’t think we can learn much more about herorelief.org this way.  All the text about disasters, veterans, etc. is really good.  But let’s look at what they say about what they’re saying.  Uh-oh, there’s a disclaimer on the bottom of the page.  <<Klaxon horn sounds>>

Copyright © Hero Relief. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.

Impressive chunk of Latin at the end–or is it?  Googling that sentence, I find:

This phrase has the appearance of an intelligent Latin idiom. Actually, it is nonsense.

So, not satisfied with refusing to say that what they say is true, Shadowhawk couldn’t resist poking us in the eye with impressive nonsense.


Glancing thru their Terms and Conditions, it’s obvious that they’re cribbed from a scam (the flashlight one, I’m thinking).  The quality of the lawyer’s workmanship really shows in lines like “While we want everyone to be able to enjoy Hero Relief, we may, in our sole discretion, not accept an order.”  I’ll just hit the high points, trying to be brief and amusing while scaring you into actually reading these things.

  • You can’t sue us, or join a class action that’s suing us.
  • Unless you tell us not to, we’ll keep charging the amount you donate to your credit card monthly forever. 
  • You have to wait 30 days for a refund, long enough for us to bill you again.  And we’ll only give you one refund.
  • If you reverse a credit card charge, that’s theft.
  • We’ll use your personal information and what we can suck out of your browser to spam you and beam ads at you.  And we’ll share it with other companies who will do the same.

What’s the buzz?

The usually reliable Charity Navigator has no information on them; nor does the San Diego Better Business Bureau.  In fact, nobody on the web is putting out information about herorelief.org other than themselves.

Certifications?  Audits?  Financial reports?  A list of charities that hero relief.org supports?

No buzz, other than what you’re reading right now.

Donate now …

Before you deal out your credit card for these turkeys to fondle, take a close look at the illustration.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.26.48 PM

  • The “Monthly donation” box is pre-checked.  You can uncheck it; but if you’ve read this far, would you trust them to keep it unchecked?
  • Green Shield sounds good.  But who are they?  Again, Charity Navigator has no information about such a charity.
  • The laughing family is not who your donation will support.  They’re clip-art from dreamtime.com .


Now that we’ve saved your credit card from a scammer’s sweaty grip, here’s a suggestion; give to a real charity.  For starters, here’s Charity Navigator’s list of charities with perfect scores.


 If you have any experience with or information about herorelief.org please reply; thanks.

7/15/16 Update: When I linked this blog to Operation Hero Relief’s Facebook page, their admin deleted my post.  So I’ve created a “Skeptics” Facebook page to enable independent discussion of this sham charity.  Hope to see you there!

7/21/16 Update: Operation Hero Relief’s Facebook page announced an Indegogo fundraising campaign.  I registered with Indegogo to look for a way to warn off contributors.  However, the campaign was closed with no backers and no contributions.  I wrote to Indegogo support to ask whether the campaign was permanently closed, who closed it and why.  Their response; “As you can see the campaign is closed and has not raised any funds. Unfortunately, this is all the public info we can provide.”

The campaign was created by Martin Stalnecker of Jacksonville.  This could be a glimpse of who’s behind Shadowhawk.  Or he might be an unwitting assistant; Jacksonville is a long way from San Diego.  His Facebook profile says, “A Jacksonville native and Clay County resident, Martin Stalnecker believes in putting traditional values first in life, family, and community.”