But an in-depth investigation by Miss Fortune exclusively for "Glistening, Quivering Underbelly" indicates that the organization may be executing a fraudulent charity donation scam, one using legitimate charities as bait.
In the fifth, and final, installment of an exclusive five-part investigative series, “Glistening, Quivering Underbelly” reveals more fraud and deception by Ship4Charities.com, the truth about three more "charity partners", and insights from a former Ship4Charities.com insider.
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
The Wounded Warrior Project® serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.
On that date, America watched in horror as approximately 3,000 people died including hundreds of firefighters and rescue workers. Many warriors note a sense of duty to volunteer for the military following these tragic events.
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the WWP supports an a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life. As you can see from the screen capture (above) taken on September 4, Ship4Charities proudly displays WWP as one of its "veterans charities".
And last November, Ship4Charities tweeted its support of the WWP and encouraged followers to "ship with us" and donate to the WWP.
But if you look at Ship4Charities "veterans charities" page today, the Wounded Warrior Project link is gone. Shortly after "Glistening, Quivering Underbelly" began its investigation in early September, Ship4Charities scrubbed the WWP from its site.
Well, most of the site's been scrubbed. As you can see in the screen capture shown at left, the Wounded Warrior Project still plays an integral part in the military mythology claimed by Ship4Charities.
Although the Wounded Warrior Project declined to comment on Ship4Charities in a written statement, a spokesperson explained during a phone conversation with Miss Fortune that the WWP has "never had a partnership" with Ship4Charities.
Shortly after that conversation, on September 4, the WWP link was removed from Ship4Charities and deleted from the "charity choice" drop-down window on the order screen.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
FALLEN AND WOUNDED SOLDIER FUND
The mission of the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund™ (FWSF) is to support Michigan-based soldiers who serve and protect our country.
The FWSF is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c) (3) organization. Members do not receive any financial compensation for their efforts. The FWSF is an all-volunteer effort, supporting our armed forces by helping injured soldiers pay their living expenses. The SWSF also provides assistance to the families of the fallen.
Although Ship4Charities.com began promoting its "partnership" with the FWSF nearly a year ago, a spokesperson told Miss Fortune during a phone conversation recently that Glistening, Quivering Underbelly's initial inquiry set off a flurry of emails among the group's board of directors.
The FWSF spokesperson explained that the group's founder stated that there was no record of any contact between the group and Ship4Charities. In addition, the organization had never received any funds donated in its name via Ship4Charities.
FRIENDS OF MACOMB COUNTY VETERANS' TREATMENT COURTThe “Friends of the Macomb County Veterans’ Treatment Court”, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established to support the efforts of the Macomb County Veterans’ Treatment Court. The organization was established early in 2013, and established a Facebook page on June 10.
But if you look closely at link Ship4Charities provides, you'll see that it takes you directly to the Macomb County's newly-redesigned homepage.
And that's not all. Ship4Charities describes the Macomb County Veterans' Treatment Court itself on its "veterans charities" page, confusing the issue even further:
Assist Macomb County Veterans through the justice system via a specialized treatment court docket to further them by providing tools required to lead to productive law-abiding lives.
So let's see if Miss Fortune can clarify this clusterf**k.
The Macomb County Veterans' Treatment Court held its first session on April 12, 2012. It's run in connection with Macomb County's District and Circuit courts--and it's taxpayer funded.
Miss Fortune spoke with a court administrator, who confirmed that the Veterans' Treatment Court did not solicit donations and had never received any money collected in its name by Ship4Charities.
Miss Fortune also spoke with a representative of the Friends of the Macomb County Veterans’ Treatment Court, an attorney, who confirmed that the organization had no partnership with Ship4Charities. The representative told Miss Fortune that her group had never received any money from Ship4Charities.
AN INSIDER SPEAKS: ONLY TO MISS FORTUNE
Miss Fortune spoke exclusively with a former Ship4Charities insider we'll call "Martin".
Martin explained he was an independent contractor on the Ship4Charities sales force, and was recruited by the Wolverine Logistics Group, run by Paganes cronies John Rademaker and Fred Esquivel.
After a few months, Martin began to suspect that something was amiss and pressed to review financial information about the company and its charitable donations.
After repeatedly being rebuffed, Martin resigned as a Ship4Charities contractor.
Martin told Miss Fortune that the "FedEx discount percentage depends on the volume of shipping the customer does. There is supposed to be a basic discount of 20 percent on all shipping with the exception of 'overnight express'."
Hardly a major discount, especially when FedEx grants similar discounts to account holders who meet the company's required shipping volume.
Martin confirmed that "if you wanted to ship a package and you simply choose a charity as a recipient, the charity would actually have no way of knowing that they were even chosen as a recipient. It does not indicate so anywhere on the site, but supposedly charities would not receive any donations until their particular fund reached a minimum of $50.00. In other words, the donations are supposed to continually accumulate for each charity until their donation amount reaches 50.00 and then they get paid...if they get paid."
YOU CAN CALL ME AL
Last week, the Shelby-Utica Patch announced a brand new business: Als Buy Sell.
The screen capture above looks like something your girl Miss Fortune might create using Adobe InDesign, but it's real!
Although his business looks low-rent (he's not even making enough money yet to buy himself an apostrophe), Al is classing up the joint with his brand new partnership with (wait for it!) Ship4Charities!
Here's Al's pitch:
We can sell your items on eBay or buy them out right (sic). Currently we are buying gold, silver, electronics, tools & more. We are also a location who can ship your FedEx packages VIA Ship4Charities. With using Ship4Charities, a portion of your Shipping cost will be donated local charities, like Camp Casey. We would love to be of assistance to help you move the items you don't need anymore. We are located at 54160 Van Dyke Ave (at 24-1/2 Mile Rd on East Side ) 586-786-4181.
Don't you just love Al?
He might just be the missing link in this charity fraud chain!
SHIP4CHARITIES: THE SERIES
In case you missed an installment in my five-part investigation on Ship4Charities, you can catch up here:
Part 1: Shipping With Benefits
Part 2: From Charity To Prosperity
Part 3: Follow The Money
Part 4: Mo Charities, No Money