By: Roz Brown, Public News Service

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Military veterans are gathering across the country for ceremonies that honor their service, but scam artists may use the occasion to rob veterans of their savings.

According to an AARP survey, 16% of U.S. military veterans have lost money to fraudsters, while 72% have been targeted by scams specifically designed to exploit the veterans’ service history.

Leah Ganschow, associate state director of communications and outreach for AARP South Dakota, says the scammers tend to be opportunists and may use today’s holiday to contact veterans asking for donations to nonexistent charities.

“Veterans are twice as likely to lose money to a scam as someone in the civilian population is, because of the benefits they have fought so hard to earn, fraudsters know that that is of value,” she explains.

On Tuesday South Dakota attorney general Jason Ravnsborg joins AARP for a telephone town hall to hear from residents, including veterans, about scams they’ve experienced and answer questions about fraud.

The 2 p.m. (CDT) call goes out to AARP members who have opted-in, but anyone is welcome on the call. More information is online at

To avoid being scammed, Ganschow says it’s important to know that federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, always contact people by mail – not by phone.

She notes that after one veteran had money withdrawn from his bank account without permission, AARP and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service launched Operation Protect Veterans to keep track of schemes and scams and pinpoint which states are being targeted.

“On our website – on – we have a scam-tracking map, which allows people to report scams that they are experiencing, and it allows us to upload data about the latest scams that are being reported,” she states.

People also can contact the organization for information about the Fraud Watch Network, as well as caregiving resources for veterans, including benefits and retirement planning.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...