House Passes Axne-Sponsored Bill to Crackdown on Crimes Against Veterans
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the bipartisan Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03), to would crackdown on criminals who attempt to defraud veterans. The bipartisan legislation would increase penalties on fraudsters who target veterans and provide authorities with additional tools to take legal action against those who seek to defraud men and women who have served our country.
While it is illegal to defraud a veteran in connection to his or her benefits, there is currently no criminal or financial penalty associated with the crime. The Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act would close this federal loophole by imposing a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both, to anyone who blatantly engages in a scheme to defraud a veteran.
“It is despicable that anyone would try to swindle the men and women who have served our country out of their hard-earned benefits,” said Rep. Axne. “Unfortunately, loopholes in federal law have made it easier for fraudsters to target and take advantage of veterans. This legislation would close these loopholes and give authorities the tools they need to bring these criminals to justice.”
Financial predators have increasingly targeted veterans, particularly elderly veterans living in low-income housing, in an effort to defraud them of their veterans’ affairs benefits. These criminals offer to help veterans expedite benefits claims at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but charge exorbitant and illegal fees, while providing little or no assistance with the case. Typically these fraudsters would be subject to prosecution under existing wire fraud statutes, but they skirt the law by holding in-person meetings or seminars. This legislation would close this loophole to better deter criminals from targeting veterans.
This legislation is supported by The American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Student Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and Reserve Officers' Association.