Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) August 20, 2020 – At least three people have been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Michigan Treasury in an elaborate scheme. The suspects fraudulently collected survivor’s benefits and unclaimed money from these entities for at least six years.
A Westland, Michigan woman named Melissa Flores and an unnamed coconspirator allegedly used aliases and fraudulent documents, such as birth certificates, to prove that they were the rightful heirs of veterans who had died and then collected money under these false pretenses. They had either manufactured or stolen these documents in many of the cases. The suspects collected over $430,000 in survivor’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and $40,000 in unclaimed property from the Michigan Treasury over a period from 2013 to 2019.
A third individual, Stephen Decker of Wyandotte, Michigan, was also implicated in the scam. He is alleged to have helped conceal the fraud in exchange for some of the stolen money. Flores is being charged as a repeat offender.
“It is hard to believe that people would steal from the men and women who served in the military of our country,” said James Fausone, lead attorney at Northville, Michigan law firm Legal Help for Veterans. “Yet here we see that some have no issue with this. Stealing the benefits that are designated to help the surviving families of veterans after they die takes money away from those who so bravely served our nation.”
VA survivor’s pension benefits are available to the surviving spouses and unmarried children of wartime veterans who meet income and other eligibility guidelines. These benefits are paid monthly.
Veterans are targeted often by scammers who are looking for ways to steal money. In 2019, veterans and military families lost more than $92 million to various types of fraud.
To learn more about Legal Help for Veterans and the services it offers, visit www.legalhelpforveterans.com.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
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