— By JIM VINES
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command is warning about a new website scam in which criminals are attempting to take advantage of soldiers and their families.
The “My Army Benefits” website at www.usmilitarybenefit.org is not an official website. The official website is www.myarmybenefits.us.army.mil and is operated by the service’s Retirement Services Office. Most websites end in “.mil” not “.org”
The primary purpose of the fraudulent site is to collect soldiers “Army Knowledge Online” or AKO, email accounts and passwords. It also makes the false claim that the U.S. military has granted access to unclaimed and accumulated benefits for active duty soldiers, and that benefits not claimed within the stipulated period will be available for claims after 60 months.
Criminal Investigation Command officials strongly recommend that soldiers, military civilians, retirees and family members avoid the website and ignore any information or claims posted on it. They recommend deleting suspicious or unsolicited emails immediately without response.
Most online scam attempts are easily recognizable because they usually involve unsolicited emails or text messages. Hoax websites often contain misspelled words and punctuation along with grammatical errors, and often ask for private information, such as an email address and password.
Cybercrime and Internet fraud present challenges to law enforcement agencies as criminals mask their true identities and location and cover their tracks quickly. Websites and accounts can easily be established and deleted, allowing scam artists to strike and then disappear before law enforcement agencies can respond.
Because identifying the perpetrators is difficult, people must stay alert and be personally responsible for protecting themselves and their families online. Do not log in to a suspicious website, email, and stop all further contact if you have previously responded to a suspicious website. Always err on the side of caution.
March 29th offers two important events for Vietnam veterans and the general public. Austin will hold the dedication ceremony of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument on the state capitol grounds from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This monument, which lists Texans who served in the Vietnam War as part of this nation’s Armed Forces, had been in legislation since May 2005. Finally, after approval by the 79th Legislature permitting the State Preservation Board to construct the monument, on Jan. 2 ground was broken and the monument construction has been completed in time for this dedication.
For more information about the schedule of events, go to www.buildthemonument.org and www.texascapitolvietnamveteransmonument.org.
The National Vietnam War Museum’s “Friends of the Museum” invites you to attend the 13th Annual Spring Fundraiser starting at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and silent auction. Music will be provided, along with a gourmet meal and live auction. The event will be held at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse in Weatherford. Tickets may be purchased at the door, $60 per person. For additional information go to www.nationalvnwarmuseum.org. Come be a “friend” and consider being a sponsor of this ongoing project.
Speak to you again next week.
Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.