Chairman Goodlatte: H.R. 4676, the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2016,” was introduced by Congressman Tom Rooney of Florida, a former Member of this Committee, and Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida, a current Member of this Committee. This legislation fixes a loophole in federal law and provides federal prosecutors with an additional tool to go after criminals who seek to defraud veterans.
In recent years, financial predators have increasingly targeted veterans, particularly elderly veterans in low-income housing, in an effort to defraud the veterans out of their Veterans’ Affairs benefits. These criminals offer to help veterans with their cases, claim to get their benefits approved in record time, charge fees that are often in the thousands of dollars, and then provide them with little or no assistance.
Under current law, many of these fraudsters would be vulnerable to prosecution under the mail or wire fraud statutes if they engage in this sort of fraudulent scheme by calling a veteran on the phone, sending them an email, mailing them a letter, or otherwise using the instrumentalities of interstate commerce to commit fraud.
However, increasingly, these criminals are taking advantage of a loophole in federal law by conducting in-person seminars or meeting in-person at a veteran’s home or assisted living facility. In at least one recent example, a fraudster visited an assisted living facility in Florida and asked the staff to “round up all the veterans” for a seminar. This sort of conduct – swindling an elderly veteran out of his or her benefits – is truly reprehensible, and worthy of Congress’s attention.
H.R. 4676, which has the support of the veterans’ service community, addresses this conduct. This vulnerable population has done its duty to protect us from harm. It is our duty to help protect them.
I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.
For more on today’s markup, click here.