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Military Community Loses $477 Million to Scams in 2023 

FTC report details how scammers target veterans and military families

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Getty Images/AARP

Last year, con artists stole $477 million from veterans, military personnel and their spouses, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That’s a $63 million increase compared to 2022, underscoring that the military community remains a prime target for scammers.

Based on reports submitted by consumers in 2023, the number of fraud attacks against service members and their families remained relatively stable, with only a slight increase of 0.6 percent. However, the number of military members who suffered financial loss from those attacks increased by 7 percent to 30,948 people, according to data released by the FTC.

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Members of the veteran community continue to lose more money than their civilian counterparts. Veterans lost a median of $599 to scams, 20 percent more than the $500 median loss reported by civilians, according to the 2023 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.

Most money lost to impostor scams

Military consumers, like civilians, primarily reported fraud attacks to the FTC, followed by other problems including complaints against credit bureaus, banks and lenders.

Impostor scams, when a criminal poses as someone (or something) else, continued to be the most prevalent and financially significant form of fraud against military members, costing them $178 million. That is $13.5 million more than in 2022.

Investment-related fraud — phony opportunities in day trading, bogus commodities and fake investment products — was the third-most reported but had the highest percentage of financial loss (81 percent) and the highest median amount of money lost ($7,000) out of the 10 most commonly reported types of fraud.

While the overall rate of identity theft remained stable compared to 2022, credit card, bank account, and loan/lease theft (including cars, homes, businesses, and student loans) still topped the list of common threats.

Consumer reports that fell into the FTC’s third, or “other,” category decreased 5 percent from 2022, to 62,471 complaints. The top three in this category remained the same: Problems involving credit bureaus, banks and lenders, and credit cards.

Active-duty members most susceptible to fraud

Although veterans reported the greatest instances of fraud attacks within the military community, active-duty service members were more susceptible to fraud attempts with 42 percent reporting a loss.

Meanwhile, Reserve and National Guard members faced the highest median dollar amount lost ($780). Veterans paid out the greatest total amount lost to fraud, at $350 million.

How AARP protects veterans from fraud

The AARP Veterans Fraud Center is an online education and resource hub with information on the latest scams targeting the military community, tips for spotting other types of consumer fraud, and specially tailored resources to help protect veterans and military families.

Free resources in the AARP Veterans Fraud Center include:

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