All of the organizations raising money in Utah for soldiers in the gulf and their families have violated state law by failing to register with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.
While the failure to register may be an oversight, it may also be a strong indication that some of the charities are a scam, said David Buhler, director of the Utah Department of Commerce."We're telling the public to be very cautious about donating to anyone soliciting funds for this purpose."
Everyone knows someone over in the gulf and is concerned for them, he said.
"All too often people are anxious to make a fast buck off the patriotism and generosity of Utahns."
Buhler checked with the Utah National Guard Monday and said it is not aware of any groups working with the military in Utah to raise money for soldiers in the gulf or their families.
"I`m not saying there aren't any legitimate groups out there. It's possible there are. But I would be very, very wary. This is a ready-made scam for someone."
State officials are contacting fund-raising groups as they learn of them and advising them that failure to register with the state is a misdemeanor violation and they must do so immediately.
If the groups don't register within a given period, "we seek a cease and desist order," Buhler said.
Organizations that have registered carry an information card verifying that registration, Buhler said. The card includes the percentage of funds going to the charity, the person's name, the name of the organization, an expiration and the commerce division's seal.
"If they don't have an identification card, they are definitely not registered, and the likelihood that they aren't legitimate increases," he said.
If registered charities do not spend the money in the manner they told the state they would, the state can prosecute them for commission of a class B misdemeanor, Buhler said.