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Scam Alert: Top Five Veteran Swindles

Aside from elderly fraud, scams targeting veterans really burns my bacon. Men and women who have proudly served our country are constant targets for scam artists.

Swindlers target vets because they know they are drawing guaranteed benefits. While veteran payments are paid over a lifetime, they often aren’t enough to pay all of the bills. Financial predators know this.

According the the AARP Fraud Watch Network, there are a host of scams aimed at vets. Many of these operations masquerade as charities that claim to benefit vets. Here are the major scams:

Bogus sales – “A scammer claiming to be a deploying service member posts a large ticket item on a classified ad website that he needs to sell right away and at a steep discount. The scammer asks for upfront payment with a wire transfer or gift cards.

Real estate rip-off – A scammer posts a fake rental property on a classified ad website offering military discounts. You just need to wire transfer a security deposit to the landlord.

VA phishing – A caller claiming to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs calls to “update” your information.

Fake charities – Fake charities use names that are close to the names of legitimate charities, often referencing Armed Forces, veterans, or military families.

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Benefits “buyout” – Scammers will target veterans in need of money by offering cash in exchange for their future disability or pension payments. These buyouts are typically a fraction of the value of the benefit.

Dubious investment advice – An “adviser” will tell the veteran she is missing out on benefits, and wants to review her investment portfolio. He’ll then want to put the veteran’s investments in a trust, to appear to have fewer assets and to therefore be eligible for an additional pension.”

Note: The “benefits buyout” scam also goes by the name of “pension advances.” A company will offer to “buy” monthly pension payments in exchange for a lump-sum payment. It’s actually an unregulated, high-interest loan.

I’ve written about pension advances several times. Don’t even go near them.

The best way to protect yourself against vet scams? Avoid all mail, email and phone solicitations. If the solicitor claims to be from a charity, check them out on give.org.

The Fraud Watch network also gives the following advice:

“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 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 website.

 

 By John F. Wasik



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