“Soldiers risk life and limb for our nation and we recognize their service in a solemn way and award them medals. The honor becomes diminished when others are able to defraud the government and military by obtaining medals they did not actually earn. As a lawmaker, I support creating a system of accountability that preserves the integrity of our military medals and recognizes the bravery of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen.”


VA Fraud $$s Recovered

As a nation, we owe it to our wounded warriors to insure that they receive the Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services they deserve. While such benefits are far less than we OWE them, a VA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder claim can net nearly $40,000 a year (tax free) in V.A. and S.S.I. income. For those who have survived a horrible ordeal in answer to the call of duty and become scarred for life, this is small compensation. For a lazy con-man, it is a windfall.

At a time when wounded warriors from the Global War on Terrorism are returning home with grievous wounds and serious needs, PHONY veterans are draining the VA coffers of millions of dollars in un-earned and un-deserved VA benefits. Indeed as you will see from the information below, at a time when REAL heroes are struggling to get what is owed them, individuals who have never even served in the military are bleeding the system of badly-needed funds based upon falsified paperwork.

Almost any VA Case worker will quickly verify that one of the problems in providing prompt treatment and benefits to our wounded warriors is the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to get a veteran's service records. Meanwhile, unscrupulous individuals with a little forgery expertise or computer skills find it a simple matter to provide the VA with false documents that can net them tens of thousands of dollars.

I have estimated that the cost of developing the digital database called for in HR 666 at between $6 and $8 million dollars. I further believe that such a database would:

  1. Provide IMMEDIATE verification of combat wounds and in many cases (where a CIB, CAR, or combat decoration is involved), provide immediate verification of combat service, allowing for IMMEDIATE recognition of the fact that an individual is deserving of VA help, and

  2. IMMEDIATELY "red flag" questionable cases where there may be fraud.

When I approach this subject I am frequently asked, "Doesn't the V.A. check DD-214s (military discharge papers)?" They do indeed. But as you will see from some of the cases below, in all too many situations the proffered DD-214 is altered or completely bogus. To learn more about this, see my page on the Problems with DD-214 verifications.


It was dubbed "Operation Stolen Valor" and was the FIRST major, sweeping project of its kind. Air Force Times reported on it under the headline: Phony Veterans Try to Cash in on VA Benefits.  Launched in Seattle, EIGHT men were charged with obtaining Veterans Services and/or benefits based upon lies at a total cost to the VA of $1.3 MILLION. In each case the bogus hero had provided altered for forged documentation to justify their claim. They included: (Click on their name to open a pdf poster showing their photo, claims, bogus and TRUE paperwork,

  • Carlos Valle Rios, a resident alien from Peru, who submitted a false claim to VA and discharge documents. Valle Rios claimed he earned a Purple Heart from his time as a World War II pilot. He wrote in his claim that he was a member of the famed Flying Tigers who secretly flew in China against Japanese forces before the U.S. officially entered World War II. A registered sex offender, he also was convicted of illegally obtaining subsidized housing in Oregon. His sentence for defrauding VA was two years’ probation, Shen said, adding that he is in the custody of Immigration Customs Enforcement and is being considered for deportation. Valle Rios in fact, NEVER SERVED in the military but collected $ 22,818 in VA benefits.

  • Larry Lewis Porter, 52, Seattle, Washington, sentenced April 19, 2007, for Mail Fraud in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain disability benefits from Veterans Affairs. Porter was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Porter claimed he suffered PTSD from experiences in the Navy, however investigation revealed the events were fabricated. His fraud amounted to $134,000 in direct VA benefits, and overall his deceit cost the VA $240,000.

  • Roy J. Scott, 71, of Port Angeles, Washington pleaded guilty August 31, 2007, to Use of an Altered Military Discharge Certificate to obtain VA Compensation and Medical Benefits, and Unlawful Wearing of United States Military Medals and Decorations. Scott claimed he had served in the Marine Corps in Korea, that he was wounded in combat in Korea, and that he had been awarded the Korea Defense Medal, Korea Star Medal, and a Purple Heart (due to alleged gun shot wounds sustained during combat in Korea). Scott claimed to be honorably discharged, when in fact, he never earned those medals, never served in Korea or any foreign country and was Court-Martialed out of the Marine Corps. Loss Amount: $21,960.

  • Merrick K. Hersey, 64, of Vancouver, Washington, Hersey was indicted August 1, 2007, for Use and Possession of Forged or Altered Military Discharge Certificate and False Statements. Hersey is a fugitive and is being sought by law enforcement. Hersey applied for benefits claiming he served in 1967-68, was awarded two Purple Hearts (for wounds sustained in active combat) and the Bronze Star (awarded for heroism). Hersey claimed he suffered from PTSD and sought benefits. In fact, Hersey never served in the Marine Corps at all. Loss Amount: $2,688.

  • Elvin J. Swisher, 70, of Idaho, is charged with Wearing Unauthorized Military Medals, False Statements, and Theft of Government Funds. Swisher falsely claimed he was wounded in Korea and that he had been awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and other medals for valor. Loss Amount: $95,000.

  • Jesse Macbeth, 23, Tacoma, Washington, sentenced today in connection with his fraudulent claims of military service. Macbeth sought medical benefits claiming to suffer from PTSD related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan, in fact, Macbeth was discharged from the Army about a month after he joined. Macbeth never traveled outside the U.S. with the Army. Macbeth duped reporters, claiming to be a decorated Army Ranger who had witnessed war crimes.

  • Reggie Buddle, 60, Puyallup, Washington, sentenced July 30, 2007, for Unlawful Wearing of United States Military Medals and Decorations. Buddle posed as a decorated Marine Corps Chaplin presiding over weddings, funerals and baptisms. Buddle was sentenced to 500 hours of community service and two years of probation.

  • Former Army Specialist Michael Heit, a former chairman of the Constitution Party of Montana who ran for a seat in the state legislature, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false DD-214s to VA and the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 2005. The forged discharge documents claimed Heit was a decorated Vietnam veteran who earned a Bronze Star with combat “V” and three Purple Hearts. He also claimed he was held prisoner by North Vietnam from 1969 to 1972. Loss Amount: $3,500

Randall Moneymaker, it might be argued, was appropriately named. Moneymaker served about two years in the Army as a private in the 1980s but was never sent overseas. But in paperwork he filed for veteran disability and retirement payments, Moneymaker claimed to have served in the Army from 1985 to 2002 and to have suffered injuries as a result of "combat operations." His scam netted $18,000 in benefits that could have been otherwise spent on a REAL wounded warrior.





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