While the holiday season brought a traditional uptick in various types of scams, recent media reports show no signs of a slowdown in the new year. No matter what your financial situation, your spending habits, or your tech-savviness, it’s likely you’ll find yourself a target.
Here are just some of the groups facing increased threat levels in recent weeks:
Warnings about scams related to the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act aren’t new, but they haven’t let up. A recent press release from West Virginia’s attorney general outlined a typical scam tactic – fraudsters reach out to veterans via phone, email, or social media claiming to represent the VA, then either seek upfront payment to expedite fake claims or simply steal the veteran’s identity.
The rapid increase in veterans eligible for VA care under the PACT Act, including many who are unfamiliar with VA practices, makes for a tempting target. Check out this fact sheet (PDF) for some simple do’s and don’ts to avoid such scams, and be sure to visit VA.gov/PACT and other trusted resources for answers to benefits-related questions.
Servicemembers at “several military installations” received calls from scammers pretending to represent the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the agency reported in January. And a Military.com report highlighted scam alerts from Army installations in Georgia and Arizona, as well as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
The targets appear to be new soldiers and cadets, with fraudsters impersonating fellow soldiers. The victims are told there’s a problem with their pay, and the only way to solve it involves sending money via PayPal or similar fund-transfer programs.
DFAS “does not make unsolicited calls regarding debts or pay record errors, nor do we ever ask for payments via phone calls using online peer-to-peer money transfer systems,” per the agency’s report.
Fans of Fake ‘Generals’
A 52-year-old Texas man scammed more than $1.6 million from seniors in 11 states under the guise of “General Miller” – a four-star officer who claimed online to need thousands of dollars to ship personal belongings back to the U.S.
One Rhode Island widow sent a check for $60,000 to a company created by the scammer, according to a Justice Department press release, and was preparing to send more when the scam was discovered.
“The conspirator feigned a personal, and sometimes romantic, interest in his victims,” according to the release.
It’s far from the first time the persona of high-ranking servicemember has been used to secure the trust of an online victim. Some scammers even pretend to be real generals.
Think you or a family member could be a target? Check out these resources from the FBI, Secret Service, and Federal Trade Commission to stay safe.
More From MOAA
Want more? Check out the following MOAA.org resources:
- From our financial and benefits expert: Protect Yourself From These 5 Common Fraud Schemes
- Three-part series: Don’t Be Scammed
- Recorded webinars (available to Premium and Life members): An Overview of Scams and Frauds | Outsmart the Scammers: How to Spot and Avoid Financial Fraud | Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime and Scams
MOAA is also a partner in the Cybercrime Support Network's Military and Veteran Program, which aims to protect servicemembers, veterans, and military families from falling victim to fraud. Find more information on their blog.
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