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Scams Target Nebraska Vetearns

Some con artists are using false claims of military-service brotherhood to scam veterans. (Paula R. Lively/Flickr)
Some con artists are using false claims of military-service brotherhood to scam veterans. (Paula R. Lively/Flickr)
December 11, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. --Scams targeting veterans are on the increase, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. So postal inspectors are teaming up with AARP's Fraud Watch Network to change that.

Their new campaign is called "Operation Protect Veterans." Devorah Lanner, communications director with AARP Nebraska, said a survey found 80 percent of veterans have been targeted by scammers, and at least 16 percent have actually been defrauded.

"Veterans are victimized at twice the rate of the general public,” Lanner said. "That's pretty alarming, and that tells me that this is an urgent problem that we need to be addressing, very seriously. "

One scam, she explained, is the benefits buyout offer. It takes advantage of veterans in need by offering a 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 the donations.

Phishing scams are also common, Lanner added.

"Scammers call veterans, they claim to work for the VA, and then ask for personal information to update their records,” she said. "And so our advice is, if you get an unsolicited call from the VA, hang up - because it's not legitimate."

She noted con artists sometimes use false claims of military service brotherhood, because they know it can be a window into a veteran's heart and wallet.

"They will pose as a veteran or someone who has served in the military in some capacity,” she said. "That way, they have established a relationship of trust with the veteran that they're in the process of defrauding."

More than 6.5 million AARP members are veterans, and 113,000 U.S. Postal Service workers have served in the military. Lanner said folks can learn more about what to look out for online at AARP.org/ProtectVeterans.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE