A new telemarketing scam is being rolled out by callers identifying themselves as representatives of “Veterans Services.” These robocallers solicit veterans nationwide using dubious techniques and pressure terms to elicit information including personal data.

The robocallers leave for veterans saying, “Trying to contact you because your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits due to changes to the VA program” adding the benefits are “time sensitive.” The goal of the message is to apparently use trigger words to pressure veterans to call the number in the message.

Most recipients of the message likely interpret it, as I did, to mean changes recently happened to some kind of VA program impacting your benefits.

Where did the company get the personal data? How were the profiles of veterans flagged for the promotion? Notice how the message leaves out the identity of the caller and company?

Some veterans commenting below reveal this is a common strategy used by this company connected with the callback phone number 866-210-1056 going by Veterans Services, whatever that means.

KARE 11 reporter AJ Lagoe covered the story last week out of Minneapolis.

ALERT: Before you read any more, it is important you realize “Veterans Services” is not a real company and it is not registered as a company legally conducting business in Florida (it is listed as inactive), where it is supposedly conducting business.

If you are contacted by them, please do not provide them with any information. Just ask lots of questions like I did as explained below.

KARE 11 Story

An area veteran contacted Lagoe about suspicious calls believed to be phishing calls spoofing local area codes. “They call a lot,” said John Fantauzzi. “I’ve had two of them in the last two days.”

“They claim to be from the VA or something about VA benefits,” he said while picking up his phone to play one of the voicemails left on his answering machine.

“I was kind of concerned that this was a phishing or some kind of scam call,” Fantauzzi said. “So, I called the VA and asked them to check and see if there was any issues regarding my benefits, and they told me that there was nothing in my records to indicate any issues with anything.”

The veteran called back the local number and learned it was a fake number. The voice message identifies the following: 866-210-1056. I encourage anyone to call and report back what you learn.

Fantauzzi is not alone.

Veterans’ Complaints Online

A quick search for that phone number and “VA Home Loan” reveals a host of veterans complaining about the phishing “scam”.

NS commented:

Got a call from 410-314-9492 and they left a voicemail message “Good afternoon we’re trying to contact you because your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time sensitive entitlement. Please call us back at your earliest convenience. Our toll free number is 866-210-1056. Again that’s 866-210-1056. Thank you.”

Ashley commented:

I also keep getting the same message… daily. Number has already been blocked. Definite scam!

Robby Duke commented:

This number goes to FDE Veterans Services. The guy I talked to wanted to do and IRRL loan modification to my VA mortgage. Forbes and military.com both have articles about them being a fishing scam.

Longshooter commented:

I get this call daily, constantly leaving the same voice message. Calling number has been blocked but voicemails still continue.

KARE 11 Calls Veterans Services

When Lagoe from KARE 11 tried to call the number, he reported the following:

KARE 11 wanted to know who was calling Fantauzzi from the spoofed phone number. In the voicemail they leave a toll-free number for veterans to call them back.

The first time KARE 11 Investigative Reporter A.J. Lagoe called the line and notified the person that answered they were speaking with a reporter, they hung up.

The second time Lagoe called, a woman who identified herself as Natalie with “Veterans Services” answered.

After being asked several times she stated she was located in Florida and was calling veterans like Fantauzzi to “provide orientation to veterans.” She refused to elaborate on what the orientation was for, stating that was “private information for the veterans.”

When asked who owned Veterans Services, the company she claimed to be working for, she said she didn’t know and they were “probably in Bora Bora somewhere having fun.”

When KARE 11 checked, the Florida Division of Corporations showed no active record of a company by the name ‘Veterans Services.’

The Department of Veterans Affairs sent KARE 11 an email stating “This is not a VA number nor is it affiliated with VA in any way.”

Lagoe reached out to me before going to press to see if I had heard anything. Since I had not, I took it upon myself to call the number, since I am a disabled veteran who receives benefits including the VA Home Loan from the agency.

Krause Calls Veterans Services

I called twice.

The first time, the individual who answered the phone hung up after only identifying the name of the company, “Veterans Services” and that the call center was located in Tampa, Florida. When I asked what the actual address was, the representative hung up.

So I called back.

A woman answered first and eventually transferred me to a supervisor who said his name was John Zies… probably a fake name.

The representative first refused to provide information beyond “Veterans Services” and their general location in Florida – – same as the first representative who hung up.

After more prodding, where I explained I would not provide any information without verifying the company, he gave me more information.

Veterans Services was allegedly hired by Federal Savings Bank, an unconfirmed allegation at this point.

The referenced bank is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and Chicago, Illinois, per Zies. This banking chain is supposedly a “VA delegate,” whatever that means. Zies later claimed the telemarketers are paid if veterans sign up for refinancing.

Then there are the claims about the company’s name.

The telemarketers initially claimed they were with Veterans Services located in Florida, but the company is not listed as an active company doing business in Florida. There are three inactive listings for business names like that.

Even Zies acknowledged it was not presently registered in Florida leading me to believe the callers are already aware some veterans will dig deeper before giving up any information.

He then coughed up that the company responsible for the calls was Financial Development and Evaluation Group. Of course, as you might guess, no such business is listed as actively functioning in Florida, either.

When I pushed back again, and brought this to Zies’ attention, the representative then said he works for Market Technologies, LLC.

Third time is a charm, right?

That company is registered in Florida, unlike the first two. A look into the Florida Division of Corporations company search shows that firm is owned by a person named Louis B Mendelsohn. According to Wikipedia, Mendelsohn is an artificial intelligence pioneer of trading software for stocks and commodities, which does not seem to fit exactly what we were seeing from this telemarketing scam.

Again, Zies may have been sending me on a goose chase, but that gives us a little more to work with, maybe. I looked up the company and was unable to find anything linking it to Veterans Services after a preliminary search, so I am suspicious about practically everything Zies said.

Who owns Veterans Services and where is the call center actually located?

Zies also explained the two benefits his company was calling about were:

  • ERRL
  • VA Proceeds

Of course, if you Google either of these, you will learn neither of these exist meaning the supervisor either was unfamiliar with the products in question or he was sending me on another wild goose chase.

ERRL was likely IRRRL, which is short for VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). An IRRRL may also be called a VA Streamline refinance loan. These are not new benefits, per se, so the message from the robocaller leaving voice messages creates a false impression using time-sensitive messaging.

Exactly how is this company targeting veterans? What data does it have about us? How did they get that data?

FCC Rules On Unscrupulous Marketing Schemes

When Veterans Services calls veterans using fake local phone numbers, it is a technique called “neighbor spoofing”. The goal is to trick a call recipient by using a number to make the recipient believe it originated locally.

“Neighbor spoofing is used by scammers to get you to pick up your phone and to potentially steal your money or personal information,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a video posted to the FCC website.

The commission adopted new rules allowing phone companies to block calls that are likely to be fraudulent.

The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits telemarketers from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value. The spoofing is only illegal if no harm is intended or causes.

Is Veterans Services illegally spoofing veterans using fake local numbers?

Maybe.

Representatives refuse to properly identify the intent or identity of the company responsible for the calls when asked. They then hang up or push back with a series of misleading statements.

When initially speaking with me, Zies first said the calls were merely to inform veterans about their benefits. Only after digging did he reveal the real motive, which was to identify prospects and pass those prospects on to mortgage brokers. It is likely this stated motive may also be false.

Unlike many Americans, veterans, and especially disabled veterans are protected from unscrupulous scammers, and it is at least possible Veterans Services (whatever that is) is running its robocaller scheme on the wrong side of the law.

Maybe that explains the shady responses and messages veterans are frequently reporting nationwide.

If someone ever tries to sell you services related to your VA benefits under this kind of solicitation strategy, you need to call your state Attorney General immediately to help prevent other veterans from being defrauded.

Source: https://www.kare11.com/article/news/veterans-targeted-by-robocalls/89-571447538

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James Clement
James Clement

What? Zies did not even have the courtesy to say “Thank you for your service” ???

Cretin low-life scammers these folks at Veterans Services be.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

When you call my house with your obvious scam you consent to unrelenting and vicious abuse. Just ask those fucking sand niggers who keep calling me from Card Member Services out of East Buttfuck Pakistan.

I will say this if you are willing to put your most valuable physical asset at risk over a shady and unconfirmed phone call then you get what you deserve. It’s not like scams are this suddenly new thing.

I live in a very small town and I don’t know anybody in it. Certainly nobody in my prefix has my phone number let alone any reason to call my home. So when the phone rings and I see my local prefix I automatically know it’s a scam. Why proceed any further with a company that lies to you right off the bat? Cuss em out. Dick em around. Waste their time.

It seems to me that this IRRL thing needs to be looked at more deeply to figure out how an IRRL can work to the scammers benefit. I’m thinking either there’s a way they can end up with your house or access to personal information that can be passed further up the line for fraud purposes. They’re certainly not calling to wish you a happy birthday.

Lem
Lem

I get two calls regularly. One refinancing. (I have a 3.25% fixed rate on a 25 year loan from 2014, when it was at the bottom for VA loans). I know that rate can’t be beaten in the current market. The second is that I received a back brace through VA Prosthetics. since then I receive a robo call that starts, “this is not a sales call. Do not hang up” Dead give away as a fishing scam. Second give away is it is a long winded spiel. Of course they are going to try to get your information first if you are sucker enough to listen to the whole thing.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

I keep getting Card Member Services those are the most persistent and annoying and when you get a live person on the phone they have thick paki accents and it sounds like their working in a boiler room with all the background chatter/noise. Of course using the option to remove you from the call list does absolutely no good as scammers don’t obey the law to begin with. I also occasionally get calls for solar panels which is actually a legit company. One of these days I’m going to have them send somebody out to the property for a face to face sales pitch just so I can throw them right off the property. I used to get the “Hey your computer has a virus” scams, those are always fun. I’ve always been tempted to call the “The IRS is suing you” robot at the callback number but I think I know better.

I’d love to know the profit margin for this type of operation. Apparently suckers are still being born every minute…

cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿
cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

Your right, I forgot about that damn spoofing……….why thar ought to be a law…………….

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

See that doesn’t work because 100% of the time the number popping up on your ID is spoofed. So the number you end up giving is some other poor unsuspecting schmuck. If I could get a valid number and plug it in believe me the energy from that back and forth would be enough to power the world 😀 😀 😀

cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿
cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

Forgot to hit the notify button………………

cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿
cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

WyldeChylde, call the IRS is suing you number, and leave the card services call back number as a call back number, start a scam caller circle jerk.

namnibor
namnibor

Anyone calling me is subject to the sonic brain scrambling of a fart machine and it’s not an app.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

That reminds me. The last time a scammer called I was actually just getting off the shitter. Was all set to flush when *RING RING RING* so I’m all like “sonofabitch batman” then I’m like “wait a minute I got an idea!” don’t flush and go over and pick up the phone. Sure enough Card member services blah blah blah blah press 1 to talk to a live asshole. So I press 1 wait for the non english speaking paki to pick up on the other end and then I held the phone close to the toilet and flushed it at him. When it was done I asked him if he got all that and then hung up. Put a smile on my face for about 20 minutes. I gave the call 10/10 would definitely flush again.

TLC
TLC

Thanks Ben! Learn something new everyday on this website.

Godspeed

HarassedVet
HarassedVet

I am normally a lurker here and have been so for a few years. This however has inspired me to comment.

I am dead set on downloading a hacker/cyber security operating system toolkit, Kali Linex. Then getting the appropriate software for this to track calls origins. I don’t really want to bombard their ops with phone calls that disable their ability to make calls out. I want to find the geolocation of where they are. Then I want to use survalience techniques to find them, their families, their friends and any damn thing they care about. Then I want to implement a full fledged digital war broadcasting their names, faces, addresses and any anything else I can find out to the internet. Then hopefully some unstable person can go permanently fix the solution. I figure if we keep repeating this process enough times that it will eventually stop?

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Here’s the problem with that. Most calls are made outside of the US. The problem is even if you do disrupt their calling ability you yourself are committing a crime. If you do manage to track down actual locations more than likely you’ll find the calls originate in either Pakistan or India. It does happen on occasion you’ll get some dumb fuck sleazebag american on the other end of the scam, those are rare. You are better off arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible about the people behind the scam and try to nail them to a wall. Be careful with media assaults we have laws against libel/slander.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Speak of the devil. There’s that pesky IRS robot telling me the IRS is gonna sue me and take all muh property. I dunno guys should I call back and offer to settle?

namnibor
namnibor

Send the IRS snowflakes a “Make American Great Again” hat with a little gift of your choosing inside the hat that would make them think of the word ‘shithead’ immediately. 😀 😀

namnibor
namnibor

Send the IRS snowflakes a “Make American Great Again” hat with a little gift of your choosing inside the hat that would make them think of the word ‘shithead’ immediately. 😀 😀

namnibor
namnibor

Whoops! WTH?

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

So hey on a brighter note I just joined a Yale class action lawsuit against the VA. Also pulled the trigger on getting Dick Blumenthal my Senator involved in my claim, which is, yet again, fubared, so I suppose at some point soon a sternly worded letter will be issued. Stay tuned.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

I feel left out, I don’t get any of those calls