Office of Military and Veterans Affairs Latest Updates

  • A military angle to an old scam

    Many of us know that dishonest scammers will use any means necessary to steal from honest, hardworking people. They’ll set up fake websites mirroring legitimate sites to trick consumers. They’ll steal Social Security numbers and people’s identities. Almost everyone has heard from the Nigerian prince who just needs your bank account number and a small fee in order to put millions of dollars into your account.

    Now, scammers have revised this last con to ensnare more trustworthy people.

    Scammers are sending emails claiming to be American troops in places like Afghanistan and looking to move “oil money” through “diplomatic means.” The revised scam has an element of credibility since people know American troops are stationed around the world, but often these scams’ emails use poor English, and have some inaccuracies that only a few people may notice, like an odd location or a military rank that doesn’t make sense. 

    As with any offer, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You should never provide personal information, like your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card info, or your date of birth to someone you don’t know, or over email. You should also never pay for “taxes” or fees in advance with the hopes of a bigger payout. These scammers will empty your bank account and steal your identity.

    Recovering from these scams can be frustrating, costly and time-consuming. The best way to prevent being a victim is to educate yourself and your family on common scams and how to protect your personal information.

    For tips on preventative measures for combatting ID theft, click here

    A new twist on a familiar scam targets military families 

    It’s commonly called “the grandparent scam,” and now scam artists are using information found on social media to direct it at military families.

    Since about 2008, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has been receiving reports of grandparents receiving calls from a “grandchild” in need of money quickly, often claiming to have been mugged, arrested, or having been in an accident. During the call, often late at night or early in the morning, a grandparent is asked to wire money and not tell the child’s parents.

    While there are variations on the scam, a recent development has been to contact family members of new military recruits, claiming the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine has had their belongings stolen, or is being sent home, and is in need of cash. In some instances a parent or grandparent is contacted from a military member offering “help.” These scammers easily steal another military member’s photo and claim it is them to improve credibility.

    Social media has allowed these scam artists to update their tactics, often with details found on social networking sites. However, some of the same information can be found in traditional media, like local newspapers that run stories about hometown military troops.

    Some easy rules to prevent being a victim of the grandparent scam are:

    • Resist the pressure to act quickly.
    • Try to contact your grandchild or other family members to determine whether or not the call is legitimate. Use military channels or the American Red Cross.
    • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash—once it’s sent, you can’t get it back.

    If you’ve been targeted, report it to your local police and state Office of Attorney General.