How scam-artists are targeting veterans with phony checks

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Switching from military life to civilian life can be challenging.

But adding to that, a new report from the Better Business Bureau shows current and former U.S. service members are often the target of scams. The report found current and former service members who fell for a scam lost an average of $200, which is 32% more than the general public.

U.S. Army veteran Michael Poling came close to being caught out. He was looking for work and posted his resume on several employment sites. A company reached out with a customer service position he could do from home. He was even sent a check for $5,000 to buy home office equipment.

“Nothing really odd about it,” said Poling.

But later that day a friend said his wife had just fallen victim to a scam that sounded similar. They had received a check that later bounced, and they were short the money.

After reporting the incident to the police, Poling says he was asked to stop all contact. He never lost any money, but many veterans do fall victim to this scam.

“When it comes to employment scams, it’s really important for you to pay attention,” said Melissa Bittner with the Better Business Bureau. “Those work from home flexible job opportunities in particular.”

Bittner says current service members are also frequently the target of moving scams.

U.S. Army Sergeant Herbert Gill and his wife Amanda were transferred to a new base and the moving company held the family’s items hostage until they paid an extra $1,200.

Gill says, “They are doing this to me, what are they doing to a young soldier that doesn’t know any better.”

Each year, about 200,000 service members return to their civilian communities. Experts say you should look for a translatable skill.

Driving a tank in the desert probably isn’t going to translate to a job anywhere. However, there are other ways to build expertise and ultimately take that with you out to the civilian world. Most importantly experts say veterans ask for help.

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