SCARBOROUGH — On April 30, the US Postal Inspection Service warned that scammers are targeting veterans in tricks that have been designed for them.
The US Postal Inspection Service said that it has teamed up with AARP on “Operation Protect Veterans,” a crime prevention program that also offers information.
According to a press release, the types of scams that have been aimed at veterans involve COVID-19 vaccinations, offering veterans a fraudulent chance to cut a vaccination line or offer other fake incentives in exchange for money.
A “romance scam” has also been targeting veterans, said the release.
“Veterans and active-duty service members are tempting targets for ‘catfishing’ romance scams, where scammers will utilize a picture of a service member posted online and create fake dating profiles to lure unsuspecting singles into giving up personally identifiable information and/or money,” the release said.
Other scams involve loans or benefits, asking for a veteran’s personal information or bank account information before claiming to be able to provide any services, the release said.
Many of these scams are in parallel with current events, like the pandemic, said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale.
“In addition to many of the same scams fraudsters use to target veterans, we’re now seeing more ‘timely’ scams, like those related to COVID,” he said. “And as May is Military Appreciation Month, it’s a great time for everyone to become informed and spread the word about scams targeting veterans in order to, in some small way, help repay the tremendous debt we all owe those who have served.”
According to an April 12 article from AARP, cybercriminals stole $1.8 billion from United States residents age 50 and up in 2020. This was possibly due to the scammers taking advantage of the pandemic.
“Veterans deserve our gratefulness, our respect and praise,” said the AARP Maine website. “Here’s what they don’t deserve: attempts to take advantage of their service. Yet every day, scammers attempt to defraud our veterans of their hard-earned benefits, steal their identity, or take their savings. These frauds include seeking donations for fake charities claiming to serve our nation’s veterans (always research before giving); targeting veterans with fake employment opportunities (it’s a scam if you have to pay to get the job or provide sensitive personal information); and offers of free cash from little-known government grant programs (the federal government doesn’t hand out grants to individuals).”
The US Postal Inspection Service said that veterans should refrain from giving personal information to someone who calls them, not feel pressured to act immediately and contact their local phone provider to see what types of unwanted call blocks are available.
“If you believe you have been scammed, don’t let shame prevent you from reporting it,” said AARP. “Contact your local police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (www.uspis.gov or 877-876-2455), or AARP ([email protected] or 877-908-3360).”
Veterans can visit uspis.gov/veterans to see more information.