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Schemers Targeting Veterans' Hearts and Wallets

An estimated 16 percent of veterans have been defrauded by a scammer, a survey shows. (401(k)/Flickr)
An estimated 16 percent of veterans have been defrauded by a scammer, a survey shows. (401(k)/Flickr)
November 20, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Scams targeting veterans are on the rise, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. So postal inspectors are teaming up with AARP's Fraud Watch Network in a new campaign called "Operation Protect Veterans.”

Researchers surveyed vets and found they are victimized by con artists twice as often as are the rest of the public. Jeremy Barewin, associate director of Communications and Outreach at AARP Iowa, said there are scams out there now that specifically target the veteran population.

"One, for instance, is the benefits buyout offer,” Barewin said. "This is a scheme that takes advantage of veterans in need by offering quick, upfront buyout in exchange for future disability or pension payments."

Authorities also have received many complaints about fake charities that claim to help veterans but are really just pocketing donations. Barewin said people also charge money for access to records that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides for free.

An estimated 80 percent of veterans have been targeted by scammers - and at least 16 percent have actually been defrauded. Barewin said con artists sometimes use false claims of military service brotherhood because they know it can be a opening in to a veteran's heart and wallet.

"Veterans can be really vulnerable to those that are preying on their patriotism and their military service,” he said. "So it's important that we protect our veterans, continue to educate people out there who may be unaware that these schemes exist."

Over 6.5 million AARP members are veterans, and 113,000 U.S. postal workers have served in the military.

Barewin said folks can learn more about what to look out for online at AARP.org/ProtectVeterans.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA