ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina and the FBI, in partnership with the AARP NC in the Mountain Region, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and the Land of Sky Regional Council, hosted an informational seminar today in Asheville, to educate veterans and those who serve about financial scams and how to prevent becoming victims of fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.
Scammers are targeting veterans at an alarming rate. According to a 2017 study conducted by the AARP, U.S. military veterans are twice as likely as nonveterans to fall victims of financial fraud. Of those surveyed, 80 percent of veterans reported being the target of a scam related to their military service.
Examples of financial fraud targeting veterans which were discussed during this morning’s informational session are:
- Benefits fraud and scams promoting secret” government benefits programs.
- Scams related to military records.
- Fundraising for fake military/veterans charities.
- Scams involving Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.
- Bogus investment schemes targeting older veterans to help “boost” their pensions.
- Identity theft.
“As a Coast Guard veteran, I am enraged that scammers are looking to get rich at the expense of our veterans and those currently serving our country. We have a responsibility to protect our brave servicemen and women and their families from financial exploitation and financial peril caused by scam artists. I want to thank the FBI, the AARP, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, and Land of Sky Regional Council for partnering with us in this important mission. It’s time to take action and stop the fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.
“AARP has a long history of safeguarding Americans’ financial security. We are proud to work with partners to empower those who have protected our country with the knowledge that they can use to protect themselves from frauds and scams that target veterans and their loved ones from their guaranteed benefits,” said Rebecca Chaplin, Associate State Director with AARP.
“The Area Agency on Aging at Land of Sky Regional Council was happy to partner with the Department of Justice/U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, the FBI, and AARP to host this event. One of our goals is to reduce the criminal victimization of older adults and caregivers, including veterans. We want to decrease unwarranted fear and crime and improve the safety and quality of life for all. We do this through outreach opportunities as education is the key to prevention,” said LeeAnne Tucker, Director of the Area Agency on Aging.
Below are some tips shared with participants during the seminar on how to avoid falling victim to a financial scam:
- Don’t share personal information such as your social security number, with anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t pay a fee for obtaining your military records.
- Don’t be lured by “special deals” available only to veterans.
- Delete phishing emails and ignore harassing phone calls.
- Don’t give cash upfront in exchange for future pension payments.
- Don’t fall for a high-pressure sales pitch or a lucrative business deal.
- If a scammer approaches you, take the time to talk to other service members, or a family
- Keep in mind that if you send money once, you’ll be a target for life.
- A good rule of thumb is, if it’s too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.
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In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI announced the Western District’s Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid getting ripped off by scammers; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners.
U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the FBI, the AARP, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Land of Sky Regional Council for their assistance in organizing today’s seminar.
For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office Elder Justice Initiative, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/elder-justice-initiative.
To view our Public Service Announcement, please visit: https://youtu.be/qBGGAA7Mxbo