71°F
weather icon Clear

Veterans targeted by scam artists

Unfortunately, the coronavirus, and the worldwide harm it is causing, has done nothing to stop fraudsters from attempting to scam veterans for whatever cash and/or financial information that they can swindle. Government agencies, including the FBI, have issued warnings about a rise in such scams.

There is an abundance of attempts to defraud veterans and others. Crooks are trying to steal stimulus checks, airline and cruise refunds and charitable funds from veterans’ groups. In exchange for free “cancer testing,” individuals are asked to supply their Medicare account number, which can then be used to access personal financial details.

Bogus coronavirus “preparedness kits” are being offered at “bargain prices,” but there is no cure. Shelter-in-place rules mean more people are on their computers and cellphones looking for diversions, and they are often vulnerable to messages that say “urgent” and “act now.” Some companies that advertise treatments for coronavirus and other illnesses have been contacted by the Food and Drug Administration and told to cease and desist. But not all comply, and new companies pop up every day.

A statement from AARP reports that anyone can put the word “veteran” in front of a charity name, and any money sent to a phony organization does not go to veterans — it goes to the “charity.” Fraud has cost veterans, service members and their families more than $338 million in the five years ending in 2019, according to Federal Trade Commission data. The median loss for military scam victims in 2019, $894, was nearly triple that for the population at large.

Old-line scams may be old, but they are still out there. One such evergreen is pension poaching. The Department of Veterans Affairs explained that while some veterans are eligible for Aid and Attendance, not all qualify. Using scare tactics and fear, some “advisers” try to convince veterans that it’s possible to get around the rules by restructuring their finances so they appear to be needy enough to qualify. The restructuring means they want to sell annuities, which are not right for everyone and can actually disqualify some veterans from Aid and Attendance.

Troop deployments are fewer than they were a few years ago, but they still occur. Often an internet classified ad states that someone across the country who is in the military is being sent overseas, needs cash and must sell his automobile at a bargain price. The unsuspecting buyer is directed to send the money to an escrow account, and the seller says his friend or relative will then drive the car to the buyer’s home. The money goes into the seller’s bank account and the car never arrives.

For a detailed list of dozens of scams, including several that are specifically aimed at veterans, go to https://aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Veterans who think they might have been scammed can file complaints with the Nevada attorney general’s hotline at 888-434-9989.

Of course not all unsolicited offers are false. But to be sure, veterans should think twice when receiving unsolicited internet offers, being offered too-good-to-be-true scams over the phone and having “limited” postal offers stuffed in their mailboxes.

Virus puts show on hiatus

Thanks are in order to a few readers who have asked why my radio show on 97.1-FM has not aired for the past few weeks. As with so many things these days, it has to do with the coronavirus situation. The Lotus Broadcasting building in Las Vegas has been closed except for only a few essential employees. No, I’m not one of them, so my show is on hiatus until the health situation is under control.

Also, most readers are not aware that in addition to my “That’s America to Me” show on Lotus 97.1-FM, I had recently signed on as a volunteer at UNLV to record one-minute news items concerning veterans’ issues. The items had begun to air on the school’s KUNV-FM and its two high-definition stations. Because of the university shutdown, I won’t be recording any new broadcasts until the virus situation is under control. So when you read my columns, just imagine you’re hearing me voice the words on the radio.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

THE LATEST
Howard turns passion into full-time job

For many self-published authors, the passion to put words on a page ends up being a hobby they do when everyday life frees up a few minutes here and there to do so.

BCHS gearing up for spring play

Spring is in the air and life is abuzz in the Boulder City High School Theatre Department. While residents all over town are packing their winter clothes and embarking on spring cleaning projects; students in the drama department are collaborating on their spring performance of “Yard Sale” by Tim Kelly.

Andrew Mitchell Elementary goes beyond 7 Habits

As a Leader In Me School, Mitchell Elementary frequently refers to the 7 Habits. As a matter of fact, each day at our morning ceremony, students and staff recite our mission statement, which refers specifically to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

LMNRA has deep roots in Boulder City

We at Lake Mead National Recreation Area are constantly amazed and grateful for the support from the Boulder City community. We also strive to provide great service to the people of this great town.

Local business funds memorial bench at King

For over a year, the staff at Martha P. King has been working with the Giamanco family to create a memorial bench for their little girl, Emilee.

A river runs through it

To say that Kathleen Wood knows the portion of the Colorado River between Hoover Dam and Willow Beach like the back of her hand is definitely an understatement.

All for a good cause

For decades, the Injured Police Officer’s Fund has been there to help provide support to Southern Nevada officers in their time of need.

For Mills, it’s been a wild ride

In the 35 years since he got on his first BMX bike, Ryan Mills has seen his fair share of tail ships, crankflips and nac nacs.