WASHINGTON, D.C. - A warning for military veterans from U.S. Senators: Scams are on the rise ahead of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday.

That was the focus of a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

LaVerne Foreman, 82, from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania is one of those victims. He first sent money to a group posing as a charity assisting disabled veterans. In 2014, he pledged a one-time donation for $20. However, the organization later requested $25 and, while skeptical, Foreman said sent the larger amount. In 2015, a similar request and pledge were made. However, this time the price increased to $35 causing Foreman to grow even more suspicious.

Foreman called the group, known as the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund, whose office was listed in Washington, D.C. He couldn’t reach anyone.

“I enclosed a check with the higher amount, $35, and asked them to remove my name form their contact list,” Foreman said in his written testimony. “I didn’t hear from them ever again.”

In Feb. 2016, Foreman noticed an error in his check number sequence in his monthly credit union statement. The DPVF automatically withdrew another $35 from Foreman’s bank account without his authorization. He soon realized the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund was fake.

“I have donated to similar veterans organizations in the past because of my concern for and sensitivity to my peers,” Foreman said during the hearing.

Senators are urging the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to better educate veterans as these scams increase.

“Almost 80 percent of veterans have been targeted,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which convened the hearing. “We have to do something about it. The VA has to take action here.”

“I could not believe that as they presented themselves, they were totally ripping off veterans,” Foreman said.

 

How to protect yourself and veterans you know

The AARP has listed tips veterans can protect themselves and loved ones from falling victims to scams. You can find them here.