The House of Representatives unanimously approved the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” (H.R.506), bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (Fla.) and Congressman Ted Deutch (Fla.) to protect veterans from scam artists targeting them for profit. Financial predators have increasingly targeted veterans in recent years—particularly elderly veterans— living in low-income housing or assisted living facilities, to defraud them out of their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. Although it is currently illegal for unauthorized individuals to charge veterans for helping them receive their benefits, there are no legal or financial repercussions for people who violate this law. As a result, scammers often get away with charging veterans exorbitant fees while the veteran has no guarantee they will receive any help getting their VA benefits. If enacted, the bipartisan bill would close this loophole by levying a heavy fine, imposing prison sentences up to five years (or both) on any individual who blatantly engages in schemes to defraud veterans or their immediate family members of their benefits. This commonsense legislation will help give prosecutors the tools they need to go after these criminals and protect those who have done so much and risked their lives to serve our country. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.
Sandra G. Van Zant
Veterans County Service Officer