A new kind of scam is targeted at our nation’s heroes, its war veterans. The companies or agents in these scams have been called “pension poachers” because they’re effectively stealing the federal pensions to which certain low-income, disabled veterans are entitled. Awareness about the scams was raised after a study was conducted in Utah, but these poachers are operating all across the country.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that more than 20 of the scam companies have been working in Utah alone. Nationwide, there are over 200 of the agencies. The Tribune’s story describes the companies as offering “financial products and services” that will help veterans qualify for pension checks.
The Government Accountability Office conducted a yearlong investigation into the problem and not only found that these scam companies are poaching off of veterans that qualify for the pensions, but veterans who don’t qualify are now applying for and receiving pensions because the companies encouraged them to do so.
One of the methods these scammers use is to transfer a veteran’s money prior to application for pension benefits. Shortly before applying for benefits, one veteran transferred as much as $1 million. This is a loophole in the law. Transferring money before applying for benefits isn’t illegal, however, charging a fee for enrolling a veteran in a benefits program is. Some veterans have lost between $250 and $16,500 to the scam companies.
Scams such as this can be hard to avoid because many of the companies have misleading names such as “Veterans Benefits Foundation,” which sound like they are affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you’ve been victim of such a scam, speak with a veterans' attorney at Brent Adams & Associates today for a free consultation. Call us at 910-892-8177.