Letter scam targets veterans

1 month 6 days 11 hours ago May 23, 2017 May 23, 2017 Tuesday, May 23 2017 Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11:10:00 AM CDT in News
By: Carolina Brigagao, KOMU 8 News Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - A scam targeting veterans has cost victims about $23 million in less than two years, according to a Missouri senator.

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, sent a news release alerting people about the scam.

The fraud consists of sending letters to veterans containing nearly identical phone numbers to the Veterans Choice Program. The letter offers a $100 rebate if the person calls the phone number in the letter and provides a credit card number. The fake phone line does not provide information on the Choice Program. 

The correct number for the Veterans Choice Program is 1-866-606-8198. After calling the number, an automatic voice massage will say, "You are calling the Veterans Choice Program."

Scammers are using a identical phone number from the Veterans Choice Program. The difference is that the scamer's are using a number that starts with 800.  

“Scammers who target our nation’s veterans—through a program meant to provide health care options and other services no less—are just about the lowest of the low,” McCaskill said in her news release.“I’m hopeful if we can spread the word quickly we can stop this unconscionable attempt to take advantage of Missouri veterans.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs learned about the scam in late April. Stephens Gaither, a public affairs officer for Columbia's VA, said they have been keeping their staff on the loop about this scam.

"We share the information with our employees -- an email that goes out to all 1,500 of our employees. So, when they interact with our customers, they can share that information if someone asks a questions about it," Gaither said.

Gaither said people often fall for the scam because of the method the criminals are using.

"Lots of times a scam is someone who telephones somebody, and it's an organization or is an activity that would never request information by telephone," Gaither said. "But people are taken in by the message and they become a victim of those scams." 

The Harry S. Truman VA Hospital average patient age is between mid to upper 60s, but also includes older veterans. Gaither said veterans are usually a target for scams like this because of their age group.

"I think there is more of a prevalence of targeting older people," he said. "We hear lots of stories about our senior citizens being the victims of scams. A lot of the veteran population, a lot of the veterans we take care of, are starting to be categorized in that older age group." 

Gaither also said the "health care part of the VA" does not deal with money, specially never asking credit card information, over the phone.

"People always have to be very, very cautious. Particularly when it's telephone content. So, we tell people they need to be totally alert, be cautious. If it doesn't seem right, just hang up. And if it involves money, if someone is asking for money, that is a big warning sign right there that you want nothing to do with it," he said. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs posted an article about the scam in its blog stating the "VA would never ask Veterans for this information or offer this type of financial incentive through the Choice Program phone line."

Veterans Affairs has around 8.5 million veterans that are eligible for the Veteran Choice Program.

Harry S. Truman VA Hospital takes care of more than 3,000 veterans in mid-Missouri.

The Veteran Choice Program started in 2014 to help facilitate faster medical attention for veterans.

 

 

 

 

More News

Grid
List
LAKE OF THE OZARKS - A St. Charles man drowned at the Lake of the Ozarks after suffering a medical... More >>
11 minutes ago June 29, 2017 Jun 29, 2017 Thursday, June 29 2017 Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:13:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia tweeted in its page a reminder for Columbia residents that shooting fireworks is not... More >>
8 hours ago June 29, 2017 Jun 29, 2017 Thursday, June 29 2017 Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:15:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Regional Airport is almost fully equipped to handle to the increased traffic that comes with a... More >>
14 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 6:45:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The total solar eclipse is now less than two months away and people are beginning to plan. ... More >>
15 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 6:10:00 PM CDT in Eclipse Planning
BYRNES MILL (AP) — An eastern Missouri man is charged with forcing his daughter to sleep in a dog crate... More >>
15 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 5:35:10 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — University of Missouri System officials are no longer counting on state funding to help build an... More >>
16 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 5:23:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Two big questions still loom in the case involving a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper and a man... More >>
16 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 5:21:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in Linn, St. Robert, and Ellington will close permanently on Saturday, July... More >>
16 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 5:18:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A special task force aimed at evaluating transportation in the state and addressing funding issues met Wednesday... More >>
17 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 3:58:00 PM CDT in News
CLAYTON (AP) — A jail inmate who escaped from a hospital has been arrested at a mobile home park in... More >>
18 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 3:20:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County is heading east. 75 county officials will travel to Maryland this fall to train with... More >>
18 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 3:08:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County sheriff’s detectives arrested a second suspect Wednesday morning in connection with a shooting that wounded two... More >>
18 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 2:50:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Missouri man who spent nearly two decades in mental hospitals after entering a disputed plea... More >>
18 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 2:26:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON — A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was hit by a car Wednesday morning. Fulton... More >>
19 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 2:00:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS — Ryan Ferguson has settled a portion of his lawsuit against police, nearly four years after his 40-year... More >>
20 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 12:44:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA -Multiple funerals took place on Wednesday at Sen. Roy Blunt's Columbia office. CoMo for Progress, a liberal group,... More >>
21 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 11:30:00 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri , man is jailed on $150,000 bond after being accused of a... More >>
23 hours ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:43:53 AM CDT in News
CHARLESTON (AP) — A judge has dismissed an assault charge against a southeastern Missouri sheriff being investigated in the death... More >>
1 day ago June 28, 2017 Jun 28, 2017 Wednesday, June 28 2017 Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:22:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
10am 81°
11am 83°
12pm 84°
1pm 86°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer
11:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Hollywood Game Night
8:00p
The Wall
9:00p
The Night Shift
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Supernatural
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld