By Rita R. Robison
As the nation observes Veteran’s Day, the Better Business Bureau warns consumers about scammers who exploit the needs and vulnerabilities of veterans.
“Active military members, veterans, and their families are a specific group that con-artists prey on for various reasons,” said Dale Mingilton, president and CEO of the BBB Serving Denver/Boulder. “Veterans’ associations with different official agencies, as well as their compassion for veteran-focused charities, make them automatically vulnerable to scams.”
Some of the most common swindles are perpetrated by:
- Firms that target veterans and charge them for products and services they can receive free or at lower cost elsewhere, such as military records and forms.
- Criminals who contact veterans saying that they need to update their credit card information or other records with the Veterans Administration. The scammers then use the information to commit identity theft.
- Bogus charities with names that reference the Armed Forces and seek donations.
- Fraudsters calling themselves veterans’ advocates who try to convince veterans that they can get more benefits by transferring their investments into an irrevocable trust, which often contains unsuitable investments.
Civilians may also be targeted in veteran or military-themed scams during honorary holidays.
Last year on Veteran’s Day, a fax similar to the common and infamous Nigerian letters was sent to the BBB’s Denver office. The sender used the guise of, “Corporal Robert Barnes, a U.S. Marine serving in Afghan.” He asked for help in “securing” $11.5 million in cash his unit supposedly discovered in the mansion of a militant ruler during a raid.
The fax asked for personal information and offered 15 percent of the total cash to whoever would help them once the “mission is accomplished.” The sender left only an e-mail address to be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. He said once he received a positive response with the initial info requested, further instructions will be given.
Never respond to emails or posts on social media that resemble this or seem suspicious.