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Susan Tompor: Veterans targeted by phone scams, pitches for benefit buyouts

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Military veterans are a prime target for telephone scams and even more likely to end up as fraud victims than the general public, according to a new survey released by AARP.

The survey indicates that veterans can be victimized twice as often as the rest of the public. The research indicates that about 16 percent of U.S. veterans have lost money to fraudsters, compared with 8 percent of others during the past five years.

"What makes them more vulnerable is technology and patriotism," said Doug Shadel, lead researcher for AARP's Fraud Watch Network.

Con artists will tell you, he said, that the best way to scam a vet is to pretend to be a vet. In general, veterans may be more willing to trust someone who claims to have served in the military than those who have not. And they may ask fewer questions about giving money to a charity that claims to support service members and veterans.

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month and a good time to remind vets that a call that seemingly comes out of the blue isn't really a fluke at all. An amazing amount of information is available on databases and via social media that can help con artists accurately target veterans.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced the launch of Operation Protect Veterans -- a national campaign to warn the military about scams. Operation Protect Veterans will use ads, email messages, social media and a new website to get the word out.

 

Scam warnings are being conveyed by phone, too, using the same tool as fraudsters.

Veterans lose money to all sorts of scams, including tech support scams, those involving fake business and job opportunities, and charity scams that play up connections to veterans, according to those surveyed.

About 80 percent of the veterans surveyed said they have encountered scams that specifically target vets or the military.

"They get all the same scam calls we get, except they also get a lot more of these things that target veterans," Shadel said.

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