Attorney General Josh Shapiro Holds Pennsylvania Man Accountable for Violating Stolen Valor Act
Ahead of Veterans Day, AG Shapiro is also providing tips to veterans to avoid being scammed when applying for benefits
HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced his Bureau of Consumer Protection and Office of Military and Veterans Affairs have settled a case against a Pennsylvania man for lying about his military service and violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Tapan Patel, of Bucks County, allegedly made misrepresentations of his military service for the purpose of obtaining employment. Patel was in fact a former Junior Enlisted Servicemember who never served in combat. When applying for jobs, Patel was dishonest about his status as an officer, lied about combat service, and misrepresented various awards and decorations including the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, and “Navy War Medal,” which is not an actual award of the U.S. Navy.
“This man’s decision to lie about military service and awards for personal gain is disgraceful,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “His actions not only violate the Stolen Valor Act, they dishonor the heroic women and men who have sacrificed to serve our country and who have been awarded the military’s highest awards. By holding him accountable, my Office is working to protect the honors our veterans have earned.”
The settlement, an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, reached with Patel provides for $10,000.00 in civil penalties and costs, $2,500.00 of which is suspended. Patel is also enjoined from violating the Stolen Valor Act and the Consumer Protection Law. Any violations of the agreement would subject Patel to the $2,500.00 civil penalty as well as an enhanced penalty of $5,000.00.
In advance of Veterans Day, Attorney General Shapiro and his Bureau of Consumer Protection are also providing tips to prevent veterans to avoid being scammed and ensure they have the best possible assistance when filing claims for their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits:
- Don’t pay for a service that is free. It is illegal for an accredited veterans’ service officer to accept any form of payment from veterans.
- Be cautious when you receive an unsolicited offer for services from an unknown source.
- Do research on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website into both the entity you are considering working with and the claims process.
- Follow recommendations and referrals of fellow veterans who have had successful experiences filing VA benefit claims with specific veterans service organizations. Always ask to see the representative’s accreditation credentials.
- Work with only certified veterans service organizations with the relevant training these are listed on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website and include representatives of organizations such as; PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, County Veteran Affairs Directors, and other organizations.
“Our veterans have sacrificed to serve our country. It’s now on us to stand up for them, make sure they aren’t being scammed, and help keep the money they’ve earned in their pockets,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “If you are a veteran who believes you have been victimized by a scam when filing a claim for benefits, please call or email my Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and file a complaint so we can help.”
If you are solicited by someone, like Tapan Patel, indicating that they are a Servicemember or a Veteran and this consideration is fundamental to your decision to hire them or make a donation ask them about their service.
If you suspect that someone is misrepresenting their status as a Servicemember or a Veteran or the nature of their goods or services, or you are a victim of a veterans scam, file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs by calling 717-783-1944 or emailing PAvets@attorneygeneral.gov.
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