Canadian Veterans' Group 'Appalled' by Phony Remembrance Product Seller
An online business called Canada Veterans has been selling products that commemorate military service, such as T-shirts and brooches. The problem, according to the Canadian Veterans Advocacy organization, is that the company is pocketing all of its profits, rather than benefitting the veterans that its products celebrate. What's more, the business might not even be delivering the products at all.
"I'm appalled," Michael Blais, a war veteran and member of Canadian Veterans advocacy, told CBC. "To think that [someone] would stoop so low to use national sacrifice as a venue to profit is disgusting."
Until last week, the company was selling T-shirts ranging from about $23.98 to $31.99. It was also selling a brooch for about $28.79.
While its Facebook presence (where it's known as Services Veterans Canada), Canada Veterans seemingly has no affiliation with actual veterans groups at all. The Royal Canadian Legion originally believed that it was veteran-run, but after looking into it, found no evidence of that actually being the case.
"It's exploitive in the worst sense," Peter Underhill, director of supply with the Royal Canadian Legion, told CBC. "[The word] 'disgust' comes to mind that people would use veterans and remembrance as a method to defraud Canadians. It's pretty awful, actually."
The situation came to the Legion's attention earlier this month, when people warned it about the website popping up on their Facebook feeds. The website apparently used the Royal Canadian Legion's name and logo on the page, and its products included a ribbon with a poppy (a symbol of remembrance in Canada, which is also trademarked by the Legion) that looked very similar to one sold by the Legion.
However, while some knock-off sites might sell their wares for cheaper than the real deal, the suspicious site sold its pin for $45.95 (about $36.79 in the U.S.), and the Legion sells theirs for only $16.95 ($13.57 in the U.S.).
While it's already ripping off trademarks and pocketing profits, officials aren't even sure that the site is delivering on orders. One Edmonton customer was reportedly still waiting for a scarf she ordered on August 15. When she ordered, she assumed the use of the poppy symbol meant it was officially aligned with the Legion.
"I remember it specifically saying 'Legion,'" she told CBC. "And there were messages about supporting the veterans."
It didn't take long for authorities to shut the operation down, however. After the Legion voiced its concerns with Shopify and Facebook, both sites disappeared.
But, it wasn't gone for good. It stopped using the Legion's name, but it resurfaced using a logo strikingly similar to that of Air Canada.
The fraudsters are still selling poppy merchandise, however, but specifically calling them by other names, like "red scarf flowers."
The CBC visited the address listed on the company's site, a location in Toronto, but found no sign of the business (or any related business). Currently, the Legion is seeking legal advice, and once again complained to Shopify and Facebook to try to bring the business down.