Alert! A Friendly Scam
by an Advocate
The business person talking to you is friendly, loves veterans, and just wants to help you get benefits. All across the country, advocacy groups are showing up, just loving all over the veterans, especially the elderly ones. Last month my computer almost melted down from all the emails. I went back and started looking at an organization I first dealt with, The American Association of Wartime Veterans (AAWV), one of many, many, such groups.
“I am filing this complaint with my mother by my side. She attended a seminar where she lives that was hosted by this organization and their "members.”They told her that they could help her apply for this benefit [VA Pension] for my parents for FREE. The members, in fact, are simply financial sales people looking to make a living off the veterans that they mislead to believe that they are volunteers working for a veterans organization. Although my mom does remember one of them mentioning that they were a financial services professional, it was not explained that they were working in this capacity to get these seniors to invest with them. We are all paying the price for this now. They hide behind the curtain of this misleading name, website and company. All of these people are salespeople who sell insurance annuities to seniors like my mother. These seniors are Veterans who need to qualify for this VA benefit but have assets that need to be protected for their future care. Almost seems like they practice law without a license. They are everywhere in our area and now that I have done some research there are many people who are not happy with the results this company has brought them. It also makes us wonder if the communities [elder care facilities] where they hold these seminars are receiving some sort of compensation.” (www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Association-of-Wartime-Veterans)
This complaint(above), which was cut and pasted from the internet, is typical of the email I have received. After it has been studied, it also reveals even more about these groups. Regardless of what they do or don’t tell you, they are still a business and they have to make a dollar somehow. However, there are nationally chartered veterans’ service organizations, like the VFW, the American Legion, and your state’s Dept. of Veteran Affairs that will file claims for you, for FREE, no strings attached.
Next, all assets need to be protected. Many journalists, state agencies, and federal organizations have found that these so-called advocates endanger the claimant’s assets. By purchasing their products, they are repositioning money, or as the VA calls it-hiding it, so as to make the veteran appear eligible for a VA pension. The VA does have a requirement for how much a veteran or widow is allowed to have for its pension program. So, by moving money around to gain eligibility with the VA, you commit fraud against the US Government. Then there is the issue of Medicare’s five year look back period which is also endangered. Commonly, in two to four years, the claimant will need the money that is now tied up in insurances, annuities, and other high costing financial products they purchased from these advocates since they cannot collect from Medicare.
As I kept track of the scams, I have learned that they have evolved very rapidly over time. Instead of large well organized corporations such as the AAWV, thousands of empty offices or ghost organizations all advocating for you have flourished. The ghost offices are fronts for lawyers, financial planners, and insurance/annuity sales reps.
Now there are businesses that will sell their programs and provide training to sales men and women of he ghost offices, guaranteeing each will make $3,000 per customer.
This has further developed into teams of business-people allied with lawyers and/or financial planners. This is because, if they cannot make money by hiding your assets from the VA, because you are already eligible and the filing of the claim is by law free - then they will charge you administrative services and fees. None of which is needed if the claimant is within the VA’s rules.
There are now businesses that will loan money against the veteran’s future benefits. Elliot Raphaelson wrote an excellent piece titled, “Pension loans potentially ruinous, often illegal”
“ In the past few years, a new and insidious player has come into this field offering pension "advances." Also known as pension loans -- although they are not usually advertised as loans -- these advances are marketed to individuals who have rights to a lifetime pension, but who need immediate cash. The sellers of this product offer immediate cash, in return the pension holder must give up his or her rights to some or all of the pension, generally for a certain number of years. Such agreements usually result in extremely high interest payments, in some cases over 100 percent per year. It is illegal for the holder of a federal pension to assign or sell it, but this has not stopped the sellers of this product from marketing it. It's why they term it an "advance" and not a loan.” Elliot Raphaelson, Tribune Media Services.
Questions or information - please contact us at VeteranFraud@gmail.com or Google Mr. Raphealson. Please do your research before you sign anything!