I-Team 8

Potential scam targets veterans

SARATOGA, Ind. (WISH) -- Thousands of men and women who served this country now count on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to serve them. That is why one couple wanted to alert I-Team 8 to a potential scam targeting veterans.

David Massey is a disabled veteran with a passion for helping other veterans. He was injured in Army training and since then has depended on the VA for his medical care. Several months ago, he and his wife, Della, started getting calls they thought were strange.

"I listened to the recording, and it was a lady stating that she was from the VA and that we should get back in touch with them right away because of a dependent issue," said Della Massey.

But Della and David's kids are grown and out of the house with children of their own. The couple no longer has dependents anyway.

"I knew right then it was fishy," she said.

David also got a call with the recording, but he responded.

"I usually don't answer them, except this particular call came in on a 765 number," said David Massey.

It didn't make any sense to him -- whoever made the call had some correct information about him, but some information was wrong. He did not fall for it, but he's worried about other disabled veterans.

"Disabled vets are preyed upon and I know that, and it's the guys that have traumatic brain injuries (who) are probably the most vulnerable," he said.

The voicemail message said:

Hello my name is Angelica, and I'm calling from the Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency Claim Service Center. This message is for David Macy concerning a dependency verification, so if you can please contact the VA at 877-764-0009. Thank you for your time and service. Have a great day."

I-Team 8 reached out to the VA. They would not talk with us on camera but said the number the caller left on the voicemail is a real VA point of contact. However, the administration said they do not have a department by that name. They sent 24-Hour News 8 the following statement:

The number referenced (1-877-764-0009) is actually a legitimate number used to verify the status of dependents. However, as with any phone scam the public is warned about, if something doesn't seem quite right, it is best to validate the source before providing any personally identifiable information.  We recommend, in such cases, the individual terminate the call and contact the organization the caller claimed to be.  For the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans should call 1-800-827-1000.

The most important takeaway for Veterans is the phone number:  1-800-827-1000."


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