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Military Families Beware - Again

These type of things crop up from time to time.  Be very aware.

Scammers back to prey on troops' families

Scam artists of the worst sort - those who prey on families' fears about their service members getting wounded or killed - have resurfaced, according to officials with the American Red Cross.

In one recent example reported to the Red Cross, a mother in Austin, Texas, got a call from scammers claiming her son had been injured in Iraq. The caller claimed to be from the Red Cross and asked for $5,000 for assistance for her son, said Joe Moffatt, senior vice president for service to the armed forces for the American Red Cross.

The woman did not give them the money.

These scams "are something we deal with on a regular basis," Moffatt said, adding that they seem to start resurfacing at about this time every year, for reasons that are unclear.

The Red Cross does not call family members to share information when a service member is injured; that is the responsibility of the branch of service, or the member's unit, Moffatt said.

If the family of a deployed service member gets a call like this, the family should call the rear detachment and tell them immediately, he said.

"The only way we get involved is if a family calls us," he said.

For example, in legitimate cases, Red Cross workers can immediately start helping the family make connections to get to the service member's bedside.

When a service member is injured, someone from his or her military branch of service calls the family.

"Whoever receives the phone call will be given an 800 number, so that if they have any questions or concerns, they can call. The number is strictly for casualty assistance officers and families," said Shari Lawrence, a spokeswoman for the Army Human Resources Command.

"Families will never be asked for money," she said. "We will never ask for anything" that will link to a bank account, credit card or any other financial information.

If families believe someone has targeted them in this or any other scam, they should contact local law enforcement authorities, she said.

Moffatt said Red Cross officials are providing the Defense Department with information to warn families.

Falsely or fraudulently pretending to be a member of, or an agent for, the American National Red Cross for the purpose of soliciting, collecting, or receiving money or material is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

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