Senators introduce bill to help military veterans ripped off by scammers

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A bipartisan duo in the Senate wants to make it easier for families of veterans fleeced by financial scams to recoup misused benefits.

The current system for adjudicating cases involving defrauded veterans is too “drawn out” and inefficient,” said Sens. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, and Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican.

They note that if a defrauded service member dies before the Department of Veterans Affairs can resolve their case, the service member’s family is not eligible to be reimbursed on their behalf. 

“Our bipartisan legislation would make a simple fix to help defrauded veterans and their families receive the support they need and deserve,” said Mr. Manchin

The legislation would allow a deceased veteran’s family or estate to be reimbursed for defrauded benefits. 

In recent years, elderly veterans have lost millions in benefits scams. Military retirees and veterans filed more than 65,000 fraud reports with the Federal Communications Commission in 2020 alone.

The reports, which were estimated to account for $66 million in defrauded benefits, followed a similar pattern. In most cases, elderly veterans were targeted by phone scammers warning of impending issues with their VA benefits. 

Phone call scams are only one of the tactics that criminals use to defraud veterans, according to Mr. Tuberville.

“Stealing money from vulnerable Veterans who are unable to manage their own finances is almost unthinkable, but it happens far too often,” he said. “When Veterans are defrauded by those who are supposed to have their best interest in mind, the VA should ensure their money is recovered quickly and efficiently.”

Mr. Manchin and Mr. Tuberville introduced the legislation last Congress, but it failed to make headway in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.

The lawmakers hope this legislative season will be different.

Mr. Manchin and Mr. Tuberville view their bill along those lines: A “simple fix” to a problem that “happens far too often.”  

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