Scammers peddling high-interest loans and jewelry and car deals with hidden costs are again targeting military members in Connecticut.
Officials on Wednesday pleaded with veterans to be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and seek consumer assistance.
Some military members have gotten calls right after returning from a deployment, Attorney General William Tong, state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi and Maj. Gen. Fran Evon of the Connecticut National Guard said at a news briefing at Minuteman Park in Hartford.
Another one of the scams involves a caller offering to help a veteran fill out application forms for federal benefits — for a fee.
Tong said the gall displayed by the scammers never ceases to amaze him. In his office, Associate Attorney General Sandra Arenas takes calls directly from veterans, active military members and their families who have received a questionable contact or suspicious offer. The phone number is (860) 808-5000, and the email is [email protected].
The scammers have easy access to the names of returning military members and also know how to exploit the national or regional data breaches that occur occasionally, said Evon, the adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard.
The unsolicited nature of the offers of loans and deals on merchandise “is a key indicator” of a scam and should prompt the veteran to do his or her homework, he said.
“In the military, we want to know who’s got our back, who’s got our ‘six,’ and these guys do,” said Evon, gesturing at Tong and Saadi.
“Protect your bank account, your credit card, your personal information — that goes for anyone,” said Tong. “There are people clothing themselves in the American flag or hiding behind some insignia who are targeting military veterans.”
Saadi, who serves in the Judge Adjutant General’s office in the Army Reserve, said some veterans and active military members have racked up high amounts of debt after getting involved with one of these scammers.
He said the scams “come in waves” and many have been around for years.
The state veteran’s affairs office, Tong’s office, the Department of Consumer Protection and the Better Business Bureau can help veterans detect and avoid scams, the officials said.
Saadi said, for example, that helping veterans apply for benefits and navigate the bureaucracy is one of the bedrock free services offered by the state veterans affairs department. The number for Saadi’s office is (860) 616-3784
Members of the public also receive donation requests from scammers posing as representatives of the military or of a group helping military members or wounded veterans.
Saadi said people shouldn’t commit to unfamiliar organizations before doing research or asking for assistance.
© 2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
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