Locate Scams Against Veterans
VA Phishing Scheme: A scammer will call you claiming to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The scammer claims he needs to “update” your information on record with the VA. In many cases, the scammer may have your social security number or ask you to verify your social security number. Warning: This scam has shown to be highly effective, in that, thousands of veterans have already fallen prey to this scam.
Fake Sales: A scammer will claim to be an active duty servicemember who publishes a large ticket item on an online classified website or a local newspaper. The scammer will indicate that he needs to sell the item right away and at a significant discount. The scammer will suggest in the ad that the item may be beneficial for a veteran. The scammer will ask for upfront payment that requires a wire transfer or gift card.
Investment Guidance: An “adviser” will tell the veteran she is missing out on major benefits, and wants to review her investment portfolio. He’ll then want to put the veteran’s investments in a trust, to give the appearance that the veteran has fewer assets, and will make them eligible for an additional pension.
Real Estate Swindle: A scammer will post a phony rental property on a classified ad website or local newspaper offering military or veteran discounts. The scammer will require you to wire transfer a substantial security deposit to the landlord to secure the property and to quickly take advantage the discount.
Bogus Charities: Very similar to the “VA Phishing Scheme,” the bogus charities scam will present with names that are close to the names of legitimate charities, often referencing names veterans are familiar with, such as, Armed Forces, Operations, Military, Warrior, Patriot, or some name or phrase that has a military tone. The scammers will often ask for donations or if you are interested in becoming a member to their phony organization. The scammers will publish phony websites used to convince you they are legitimate. Additionally, the scammers will use phony background noise to give the impression to you they are calling from a large call center. Warning: This scam has shown to be highly effective, in that, thousands of veterans have already fallen prey to this scam.
Cash Buyout: Scammers will target veterans who are in need of money immediately by offering cash in exchange for their future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the benefit. For example, scammers typically use a so-called formula based scheme that will provide a veteran $50,000 in cash. The veteran will sign over all future monthly payments to the scammer in exchange for the cash. A 55 year-old veteran rated at 40% from the VA, and who lives to 75 years-old will have lost $106,326 in the transaction.
Political Contributions: Scammers are contacting veterans and claiming to represent a political candidate or party. The scammers will already know your political affiliation (information on many county websites where you registered to vote). The scammers are making telephone calls posing as campaign workers seeking political donations from veterans who are lured into providing their credit card information over the phone, wiring money, providing gift cards or their bank routing numbers and account information. To give the impression that the scam is legitimate, scammers are using a telephone technique called “spoofing,” in order to make it appear that the call is coming from a candidate or political party and recordings of a candidate can also be used as a part of the elaborate scam. Furthermore, scammers are aware that calls from political candidates are exempt even from the federal Do-Not-Call List, so it would be legal for someone to get a call from a political campaign seeking donations. The scammers will often ask a veteran for a large sum of money, but will settle for any amount. Warning: This scam has shown to be highly effective, in that, thousands of veterans have already fallen prey to this scam.
Note: The “Cash Buyout” scam also goes by the name of “Pension Advances” or “Benefits Advances.” A company will offer to buy monthly pension payments in exchange for a lump-sum payment.
The Fraud Watch Network gives the following advice:
Veterans! Always be suspicious anytime you are asked to pay by wire transfer or gift cards. Know that the VA will never call, text or e-mail you to update your personal information. Make donations directly to the veterans’ organizations you know. And, only work with VA-accredited representatives when dealing with VA benefits; you can search for them online at the VA Office of General Counsel.