US military veterans lost over $560 million to scams in the last 5 years

William S. | November 08, 2022

As Veterans Day approaches, we would like to use this as an opportunity to inform about scams targeting former military members. According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, US army veterans lost $563 million to scams in the last 5 years. In total, military retirees reported 556,807 cases of fraud.

The data is based on the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) report published on November 3, 2022. All reports were collected between 2018 and 2022, September 30. 

The FTC uses these complaints as the starting point for criminal investigations. The FTC does not resolve the accusations themselves, but they send out the data to over 2,500 law enforcers in the US.

Miscellaneous investment scams have cost veterans $105.5 million since 2018. Former military members reported a total of 4,206 instances of scammers offering fake investments. Fraudsters convince veterans that they can help get additional benefits by investing in something to make it appear veterans' assets are significantly less than they are.

Business impostors stole $71.2 million from veterans in the last 5 years. Military retirees reported 49,617 cases of scammers impersonating businesses. Such scams involve fraudsters using business logos and spoofing companies' email or web addresses.

Fake prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries resulted in $62.1 million in losses to veterans. FTC received 11,635 reports of such scams taking place. This scam type starts from an email, a call, or a message informing you of winning a big prize. However, scammers will ask you to pay a fee or taxes to claim your winnings without ever giving you anything in return.

Government impostors scammed $60.9 million out of veterans in the last 5 years. These types of scams were the most popular among fraudsters, as FTC received 55,449 reports of fraud. Scammers pretend to be government officials from IRS or other agencies. They will either go straight for your money or try to steal your identity for further crimes.

Romance scams have cost $53.5 million to veterans since 2018. Military retirees reported 3,766 instances of such fraud. Furthermore, tech support scams cost veterans $41.7 million. In total, the FTC received 15,726 reports about romance scams.

Military retirees lost $34.2 million to online shopping scams. This was the third most reported type of fraud, with 29,300 total cases. Real estate scammers stole $9.9 million from veterans in the last 5 years. In total, the FTC received 253 reports of such fraud.

Timeshare sale scams cost $9.5 million to military retirees. In addition, fraudsters stole $5.9 million from veterans by offering fake art, gems, or rare coin investments. Scammers also collected $4.8 million from investment seminars and advice. Lastly, foreign money and inheritance scams accounted for $1.4 million in losses for veterans.

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Red flags to watch out for

Military veterans and their families have special government resources available to them. Unfortunately, scammers perceive these benefits as easy prey. Here are some tips for recognizing and avoiding scams. US military personnel had lost more than $822 million to scams since 2017. So, staying vigilant is crucial.

Ignore anyone who contacts you via email, phone, text, or dating apps and requests money or financial information. Some fraudsters have also set up fake websites to charge veterans to access their military or medical records. If you are looking for military records, contact the VA or National Archives.

"Secret" government programs do not actually exist. However, a scammer already has everything they need to steal your identity or carry out actual loan fraud by the time you discover you have been deceived.

The scammers also often urgently request upfront payments. They use scare tactics for rushing their victim into giving up credit card numbers, bank account information, or Social Security numbers.

The Federal Trade Commission encourages people to share any scams or rip-offs they come across. The US citizens can report scams here:

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