August 3, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 2, 2012<
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009
Veterans should not provide bank account information over the phone
Augusta—The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) has learned of a potential scam targeting veterans’ bank accounts. Veterans who have either signed up or have been approved for the new Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) have been specifically affected. VRAP provides a $1,473 monthly stipend to enrolled veterans attending an approved community college or technical training school.
MDOL’s manager of veteran programs, Dennis P. Wellman, was first alerted to the scam. He advises veterans not to provide banking account information over the phone to anyone.
Veterans report having received a phone call from an individual who congratulated the veteran on his or her VRAP approval. The caller, who might refer to himself as a “James,” advises the veteran that he knows the dollar amount of the training for which the veteran has been approved. The caller then tells the veteran that an amount of money matching that figure will be deposited directly into his or her bank. To receive the bank deposit, the veteran is directed to call a phone number with a 202 area code, give his or her bank account number and routing number to a person named “Kelly,” and pay $205 for the service fee. The phone number was called, and it is answered by a standard answering machine.
Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass, who himself is a veteran, emphasized, “Veterans need to be aware of scams such as these that target benefits they have earned through their service. However, all of us, even if we are not a veteran, are well served by these reminders to keep our financial information private and never provide it to people we have not directly contacted ourselves.”
The Maine Department of Labor’s CareerCenters offer specialized employment and training services for veterans. Veterans and eligible spouses are given priority of service under most Maine Department of Labor-funded programs. A CareerCenter veterans' representative can help returning service members find a job, get new skills or access other state or federal resources.
For more information about employment and training services for veterans, including the VRAP program, contact the CareerCenter at (207) 623-7981 (TTY users dial Maine Relay 711) or visit www.mainecareercenter.com.
Veterans who think they might have been targeted should contact Dennis Wellman at (207) 623-7900.