CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Florida is about to get tough on fake charities, particularly phony soldiers stealing the honor of American veterans.
A new law taking effect Friday in Florida makes it a third degree felony to ask for money while pretending to be a veteran.
"It's all about money, I see them throughout the whole state," said VFW State Commander Pete Nicholsen. "When people are giving donations and thinking they're doing the right thing for veterans, and its being stolen."
Some solicitors going so far as to dress like the real soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, full fatigues and even medals.
"The most disgusting and obscene thing I've ever seen, is people wearing purple hearts," Nicholsen said.
"Its a disgrace to the veterans," said Army veteran Bob Rieser. "Somebody that's not a veteran, collecting funds in the name of a veteran. How can they live with themselves?"
Rieser has caught fake vets in the act, some looking for funds in a local bar.
"I just knew something was funny, so I asked him if he had a 501(c)3. He said 'what's that?' Right then and there I blew the whistle," Rieser said.
Under the new Florida law, falsely dressing up as a soldier, or simply claiming to be one to seek donations, becomes a felony charge. It's punishble with five years in prison and a five-thousand dollar fine.
"It gives all legitimate charities a black eye," Rieser said.
To check the legitimacy and spending details of charities in Florida, visit the Florida Division of Consumer Services.