VA Appointed Fiduciary Abuse
A whopping $3 billion in assets is currently owned by American veterans who are too disabled or ill to manage their own money. To remedy this, the Department of Veteran Affairs has a national program in place to appoint family members and VA-approved fiduciaries to manage these veteran assets. Unfortunately, this program is plagued with fraud and theft.
In the past decade, the number of prosecutions for stealing from disabled veterans has doubled in Texas. These crimes vary in severity – ranging from $5,000 stolen up to $2 million.
For example, Waco optometrist David Fran took $126,250 from a disabled veteran in order to build up his own private business. Similarly, a Texas man and his wife allegedly stole $2 million from two dozen veterans in a pending case described as the largest rip-off ever reported in the VA fiduciary program.
Perhaps even more heartbreaking are the stories of theft when the fiduciary is a family member. Rose Avila stole $180,000 from her veteran brother over a period of five years, all the while telling him his VA benefits were “being saved.”
Part of the problem is a lack of oversight. In fact, some of the VA-appointed fiduciaries even have criminal records, but were still approved. The VA has set up a new system to improve background checks and monitoring of fiduciary activities. Unfortunately, with 96,000 fiduciaries assisting veterans nationwide, reports of theft still remain rare.
In an effort to deter this fraudulent conduct, Texas prosecutors are pursuing even small-time family scams.
We here at Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC, hear from veterans about fiduciary abuse. At times, we are able to intervene. VA needs a better monitoring system and a timely dispute resolution system when veterans complain.
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If you have questions on VA disability claims or fiduciary abuse, contact Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC at 800-693-4800.