Missouri AG Vs. Storm-Aid
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has set his sights on the Georgia operator of an Internet radio station who’s promoting benefit concerts and selling T-shirts to purportedly benefit the victims of recent tornadoes in the region.
Koster said in a statement that Steve Blood has racked up nearly $5,000 in a PayPal account from sales of “Storm-Aid” T-shirts, concert tickets and other sponsorships and donations since the storms.
However, while Blood has claimed he is soliciting donations on behalf of the victims of the Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., tornados through his websites, Koster said “none of the money has gone to help tornado victims, but rather, has been used for Blood’s personal expenses.”
Blood reportedly announced in June that a “Storm-Aid” concert Aug. 26-27 at the Hunstville Speedway in Alabama would feature Willie Nelson and Gretchen Wilson, along with other acts, and 50 percent of proceeds would go to storm victims.
However, investigations by the Huntsville Times and the North Alabama Better Business Bureau following the announcement found that neither Nelson nor Wilson were booked for the show. The Speedway pulled the plug on the event.
Another “Storm-Aid” concert July 23 in Branson, Mo., was also put on hold.
“Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy,” Koster wrote. “Protecting the citizens of Joplin is this office’s number-one goal, and we will be aggressive in going after those who engage in charity scams or other fraudulent behavior affecting Joplin’s recovery.”
A message on “Storm-Aid”’s Eventbrite page states ticket sales are on hold until a new venue is announced and that current tickets will be honored at the new venue.
“Lineup is subject to change due to powers beyond anyone’s control,” the page says. “Please keep in mind that the goal of this concert is to raise money for tornado and storm victims.”
Koster is seeking an injunction prohibiting Blood from further violations of the Merchandising Practices Act and to require that all funds collected go to the intended recipients. He has also asked that Blood be required to pay full restitution to donors, civil and state penalties and all court and investigative costs.