Scam Watch

Military families misled by Red Cross impostor

June 22, 2008|By Dan Thanh Dang

A scam using the American Red Cross brand is conning military families into believing that a loved one in the service has been injured overseas so that the perpetrators can steal personal data or ask for a donation to the charity.

The nonprofit's Office of Investigations, Compliance and Ethics says the caller contacts a spouse or another family member of a person in the military and identifies himself as a representative of the Red Cross. The caller then states that the service member has been injured while on duty in Iraq and is being, or will be, airlifted to Germany for treatment and care. The OICE warns that the caller may ask for additional information about the service member, such as date of birth or Social Security number.

In subsequent calls, the caller updates the family member and asks for a donation to the Red Cross to help cover the cost of the airlift and medical care.

The Red Cross warns that its representatives do not contact military members or military dependents when a service member has been injured or killed in action. Family members should know that the service member's command or the casualty assistance branch of the respective service contacts the primary next of kin when a service member has been injured or killed in action.

The Red Cross urged military families not to give out any personal information or money over the phone, or even confirm that a family member is deployed, if contacted by unknown or unverified individuals. Report any such calls to the local Family Readiness Group or Military Personnel Unit.

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