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FBI, USPS, and AARP highlight scams aimed at veterans

Jessica Radanavong

Oregon’s FBI office has issued a warning of scams targeting veterans. An initiative dedicated to fighting fraudulent schemes against this group share what to watch for.

“Operation Protect Veterans” is a joint effort between the AARP and the U.S. Postal Service. Both groups say 16 percent of vets are duped by scams, compared to 8 percent for other folks.

“They're preying on these people who have served our country, and it's just…it's deplorable,” said Adam Sale. He’s with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, for Oregon and southwestern Washington.

“People who served in the military generally tend to be more trusting than normal people,” Sale explained to KLCC. “And so veterans tend to be targeted by scams, the victims tend to accept what they're saying a little bit easier than if it's somebody who wasn't who they didn't think served in the military, especially if the scammer talks, “military talk.”

U.S. Air Force
Active military servicemember visits with veteran in retirement home.

Independent research, skepticism, and resisting urgent demands for personal information are key to keeping safe from scams.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has partnered with the AARP on “Operation Protect Veterans.” He said there’s a number of ways con artists try to bilk vets.

U.S. Air Force
Marine Corp veteran waves flag at Veterans Day parade, 2014.

“Where an imposter claiming to be from a government agency attempts to get veterans’ personal information to “update” their file to maintain benefits,” said Sale.

“’Secret veteran benefits’ scams. Veterans are told they qualify for secret government programs or benefits offered thousands of dollars, but first they must provide personal information or pay a fee.

“And this is a change on what we call the Nigerian scam, it's the same fraud just offered in a different way.”

Sale says Veterans Affairs would never request processing fees for claims, or threaten jail time or lawsuits. He says if an unknown caller tries to get sensitive personal information on behalf of an agency, to hang up and call the agency directly about any changes or opportunities.

The FBI release says if you are the victim of online fraud, you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.

Copyright @2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.