Our military veterans are being recognized across Southern Colorado on Veteran's Day, but federal investigators say not everyone is interested in honoring these brave men and women. Instead, they want to steal from them saying this is a time of year veterans need to be careful.
A recent AARP study found U.S. military veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to lose money to fraud. Consumer experts say veterans day is when it all starts. Calls, emails, social media messages and even door knocking by fraudsters hoping veterans will give them money or sensitive information for a bogus patriotic cause.
"I work for a military charity and we're seeking donations from veterans just like you," said one recording.
"This is the VA calling and we'd like to verify your information on file," said another robocall.
Veterans are already fielding calls like these and experts say it'll continue throughout the holidays. when veterans might be feeling especially charitable.
Air Force Veteran Joe Keough answered one of the calls.
"They were asking for cash or vehicles for disabled veterans," said Keough.
But something felt off, so he looked a little deeper and realized the whole thing was bogus.
"As a result of that, I was able to put together a statement of facts and send it to the State Attorney General's office," said Keough.
It turns out the person who called Keough was placing robocalls in several other states. Federal investigators were able to put a stop to his scheme, but it's not just phone calls that are a concern.
Chris Castle, a marine vet who served in Desert Storm got a knock on his front door.
"They asked for a donation to help provide care packages for active duty soldiers," said Castle.
Castle gave them money, then later became suspicious. The phone number listed on the Helping Heroes Project website didn't match.
The AARP survey shows requests to help fellow vets tops the list of scams specifically targeting veterans.
"I would say if you receive an unsolicited phone call from one of these, saying they want to help veterans, do your research. Don't just give right away," said AARP Senior Program Specialist Mark Fetterhoff.
AARP charity researchers say 80% of Colorado residents give to charity, but only 46 percent regularly take the time to see if those charities are legitimate.
If you, or someone in your family is a military veteran and needs help to navigate these unsolicited calls please consider some of the links below for tips and resources to avoid falling victim to fraudsters.