May 3, 2019
The U.S. Navy Veterans Association claimed to be a charity headquartered in Washington, D.C. Founded by Bobby Thompson, known to top politicians as a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, the charity’s stated purpose was to support veterans and their families. Using telemarketing firms, the association secured contributions from donors big and small, collecting from everyday people who wanted to honor the service of men and woman in the U.S. military by giving back to veterans in need. While that was a noble cause, nothing about the U.S. Navy Veterans Association was what it seemed. Buoyed by the eccentric Bobby Thompson, the association thrived on more than $20 million in revenue. Thompson’s status as a well-respected fundraiser allowed him to circulate among Washington’s elite, pose for pictures with presidents and donate large sums to political campaigns under the guise of championing veterans. But when Jeff Testerman, an investigative journalist from Florida, tracked Thompson down to ask a simple question about one of his political donations, Thompson was evasive and combative. Testerman knew there was a secret hiding behind Thompson’s behavior and dug in. Little did Testerman know how deep the lies and secrets of the charity and Thompson went. The U.S. Navy Veterans Association wasn’t sending money to veterans; it was an elaborate scam. And Jeff Testerman discovered that its founder was not a retired naval officer — nor was his name Bobby Thompson.