Minnesota AG sues company for posing as charity helping service members, funneling donations to owner

In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., listens during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party, in Denver. Photo: AP/David Zalubowski. In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., listens during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party, in Denver.

KSTP
Updated: March 25, 2021 03:22 PM
Created: March 25, 2021 01:43 PM

Minnesota's top attorney is suing a company for defrauding Minnesotans through a company posing as a charity for service members.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Thursday that his office is suing a company that refers to itself as "Contributing 2 Combatants and Coast 2 Coast Marketing" and its owner, Jacob Choinski, for violating charitable-solicitation and consumer-protection laws.

The lawsuit alleges that the company, formally named "PNW C2C Marketing, LLC, (C2C)" went door-to-door in Minnesota neighborhoods and misrepresented that the company was a nonprofit soliciting donation to send care packages to servicemembers overseas. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Choinski spent the funds collected for his personal use and did not spend a single dollar on care packages since the C2C's inception in 2018.

"Choinski enriched himself by using C2C to exploit Minnesotans' generosity in the name of benefiting military service members who are serving all of us overseas," Ellison said. "This conduct is truly despicable. Our military members serving overseas undertake a tremendous sacrifice from which we all benefit. I will continue to aggressively pursue every company and person that exploits our service members' sacrifice and preys on Minnesotans' generosity."

According to the Attorney General Office, C2C is a for-profit Minnesota limited liability company that claims to sell the cost of shipping a care package to servicemembers overseas through door-to-door solicitation. C2C claims to partner with a charity to which it provides funds from its sales. They claim that its partner charity then sends the care packages using the money it gives the charity.

This lawsuit alleges that C2C has not given any money to the nonprofit with which it supposedly partners, despite soliciting over $70,000 for Minnesotans since July 2018. Choinski, as C2C's sole owner, instead used C2C to solicit door-to-door in Minnesota and keep all the money received for his own purposes. The lawsuit also alleges that C2C deceptively represents itself as a nonprofit while soliciting and asks Minnesotans for donations, tells Minnesotans that their donations are tax-deductible, and misleads Minnesotans to believe that they can choose the gender of the service member who will receive a care package and the branch of the military they wish to support.  The lawsuit further alleges that Choinski has been affiliated with other companies that have been accused of the same conduct as C2C in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas, according to the attorney general.

C2C has solicited throughout the Twin Cities metro area, Greater Minnesota and other states. The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, asserts that C2C and Choinski have violated the state's Charitable Solicitation Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Consumer Fraud Act.

Anyone who has been solicited by Contributing 2 Combatants or Coast 2 Coast Marketing, or who has information they would like to share about C2C or Choinski, is urged to contact the Minnesota Attorney General's Office at 651-728-7237 or 800-657-3787, or by submitting an online complaint form.


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