Rooney, Deutch Bill to Protect Veterans from Scams Passes U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (H.R. 506), bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) to protect veterans from scam artists targeting them for profit. Financial predators have increasingly preyed on veterans — particularly elderly veterans — in low-income housing or Assisted Living Facilities in recent years to defraud them out of their Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.
Although it is currently illegal for unauthorized individuals to charge veterans a fee for aid to receive their benefits, there are no legal or financial repercussions for violators of this law. As a result, these scammers often get away with charging veterans exorbitant fees while the veteran has no guarantee that they'll receive any help with their VA benefits.
If enacted, the bipartisan Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act would close this loophole by levying a heavy fine, imposing prison sentences up to five years – or both – on any individual who blatantly engages in schemes to defraud veterans or their immediate family members of their benefits.
“Anybody who seeks to financially exploit the men and women who have served our country and cheat them out of their hard-earned VA benefits should answer to their wrongdoings and face harsh punishments for their crimes,” Rooney said. “Frankly, it’s appalling that there are people out there who are targeting our veterans, especially those in low-income housing or those who are elderly. This commonsense legislation will help give prosecutors the tools they need to go after these criminals and protect our those who have done so much and risked their lives to serve our country.”
“With this vote, the House is taking strong, bipartisan action to protect our veterans from scams,” Deutch said. “Con artists looking to steal veterans’ hard-earned pensions must face penalties for these illegal practices. With unanimous approval for this bill in the House, I now urge my Senate colleagues to swiftly consider and pass this bill and make this long-overdue bill a law.”
Congressman Rooney is an Army veteran and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Congressman Deutch is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee.
This bipartisan bill was introduced on Thursday, January 12, 2017.