Washington County’s Veterans Service Officer (VSO) is cautioning local veterans to be aware of possible scams.
During Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting, Eric Posern said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently sent a memo to VSO’s around the country, advising that the department has seen an increase in scam practices involving veterans and veterans benefits.
While Posern did not mention any specific instances of scams happening on a local level, he wants the veteran population to be mindful of these sorts of situations, as it pains him to see money meant for something good be siphoned away to satisfy ill motives.
Posern said the fraudulent activity often involves individuals misrepresenting themselves as V.A.-accredited representatives, such as himself. He said he will never charge for his services, and neither will other county VSO’s, but there are attorneys who do charge for services, and some of them are not qualified to handle V.A. matters.
Commissioner Candice Bullock mentioned how new scams can incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create computer-generated voices that, to a victim, can sound authentic to someone they know. She suggested to Posern that whenever he visits with veterans, he should let them know what questions he will never ask and what information he will never need. He said that was a great idea.
Commissioner Kirk Hanath said his late father fell victim to a veterans scam and called it a “horrible” experience, adding that, “As someone that’s gone through that, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that.” He said all of Washington County’s constituencies need to be aware of these occasions because they are “very easy to happen.”