Thursday, May 10, 2007

War veterans cry foul over mail fraud

War veterans cry foul over mail fraud

Surviving on a measly monthly social pensions from the federal government, many war veterans here have fallen prey to fraudulent transactions mostly done through direct mails by unscrupulous people across the United States.

The normal modus operandi appears to be legitimate because the unsuspecting victims would receive mails that looked like their names have been luckily picked up in a lottery draw which in fact was done somewhere else.

A case in point was that of Fortunato Magno, a disabled war veteran living in Carson, who got a mail that proclaimed him a lucky winner of a US$10,000 in a lottery draw made many years ago. But the catch was that he wouldn't be able to receive the full amount unless he sends some amount to a certain address as processing and service fee.

"Believing to myself that I was lucky enough, I sent a check to the addressee mentioned in the letter," Magno said.

Instead of receiving the promised amount, he was again required to remit some more payments so that the complete processing of his win would be finalized. However, it was only until a few more weeks that he sensed that the transaction was a scam considering that no check was sent to him. "I'll just charge it to a sad experience," he lamented.

The same thing happened to Richard Ongsotto, 82, a war veteran himself living in Moneta Avenue. "I jumped with joy upon receiving a check worth US$3,000 from a company operating outside California," he explained.

Since he was badly in need of cash, he immediately encashed it at the Bank of America. Unexpectedly, he got a notice a few weeks later that the said check bounced.

In short, he was made to return the amount that he got from the bank. This was done through automatic debit from the savings deposit he has with the said bank. For more than three months, he suffered the consequences by not getting his pension, he explained.

That's why Jesus Belicano, a war veteran himself, had already been careful not to entertain this kind of direct mails that he received on a number of occasions."I just ignore these things because I'm not sure if it's bogus or not."

Consequently, he reminded his co-war veterans not to easily fall victim to this scam by first analyzing things and knowing the consequences that migh befall them later.

In response this these scams, anti-fraud investigators in Los Angeles have stepped up their efforts to put a stop to this by uncovering more details about this illegal activity that only victimize the ailing veterans who are already in their sunset years.

A war veteran who declined to be named, revealed that the authorities have started their investigation by interviewing the victims about their sad experiences to find out who are behind these scams.

Recently, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Office in Washington, D.C. got into the limelight when the file that contains the names of U.S. war veterans was found to be missing from its computer hardware.

It could not be ascertained yet as to whether these missing files were used in these illegal transactions that often victimize innocent war veterans, who are measely surviving on their meager monthly social security pensions.

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