Veterans Being Stripped of Compensation
By Laura Martinez, USVCP Staff Writer
Original Publication Date: April 28, 2016
Republished: April 25, 2018
It’s been reported by various sources that “IG Squads” from Veterans Affairs (VA) are scouring the country looking for veterans believed to be defrauding the U.S. Government. Almost daily, we are getting more and more reports from veterans everywhere that VA “IG Squads” are roaming the countryside spying on disabled veterans. The “IG Squads” are allegedly filming disabled veterans from drones, automobiles, and buildings close to a disabled veterans home and workplace, all in the hope of capturing enough data that might identify a veteran believed to be malingering. That is, faking an illness or physical condition for monetary gain.
Initially, one might think veterans are simply paranoid and confused. But, consider the evidence.
Truth be told, there is a VA Office of Inspector General Rewards Program that the general public and veterans may participate in for the sole purpose of identifying fraud, waste, and abuse within the government. The rewards program provides cash to the individual for disclosing information concerning criminal or unlawful activities involving VA programs and personnel.
Types of criminal or unlawful activity include, but are not limited to, false or fraudulent claims for benefits, medical care, services, or payment from VA to beneficiaries, survivors, fiduciaries, contractors, veterans and VA employees; theft of identity of veterans or fictitious or exaggerated military service claims against VA (including offenses known as “stolen valor”); fraud related to pharmaceutical firms’ illegal defective pricing or off-label marketing activities; acts of embezzlement, extortion and bribery committed by VA employees; theft and diversion of legal drugs by VA staff and others; sale of contraband drugs and pharmaceuticals by and to VA staff and patients; theft of VA resources and data; assaults involving VA employees and patients, including homicide, manslaughter and rape; threats against VA employees, patients, facilities, and computer systems; mortgage fraud; and workers’ compensation fraud.
There seems to no shortage of veterans and civilians eager to take on the role of watchdog for VA inspectors. Allegedly, some veterans have made it a fulltime job for themselves looking for veterans who may be defrauding the government.
Veterans have sent us many cases where unsuspecting disabled veterans have been spied on for weeks and convicted of fraud. Consider snippets of the following cases:
A jury in Huntington, Kentucky, returned a guilty verdict in the trial of a Kentucky veteran for defrauding the Veterans Health Administration. Phillip M. Henderson, 50, of Olive Hill, Kentucky, was convicted following a five-day jury trial. The jury required only an hour of deliberations before finding Henderson guilty of fraud for pretending to be blind.
In Tampa, Florida, a veteran is facing a possible federal prison sentence after he admitted that he lied about being blind to collect government benefits. Although he claimed he couldn’t drive or even get around without help, the veteran actually worked as a mailroom clerk and drove for years. The veteran, Gary W. Gray, 67, of Kenneth City, suffered a service-related eye injury while serving in the Army between 1968 and 1970. Over the years, he collected Veterans Administration benefits, claiming his disability — hypertensive retinopathy — worsened after a stroke to the point he was almost totally blind. He couldn’t drive, he said, or read to handle his financial matters. He depended on his wife and other people to help him get around. But he was lying about the severity of his condition. And on Monday, Gray pleaded guilty to stealing government money, a charge that carries up to 10 years in federal prison.
IG Squads used several methods of surveillance over several weeks showing that Mr. Gary not only was able to drive himself, but was extremely active at his place of employment.
In Sacramento, California, a veteran was charged with fraud for faking the severity of a shoulder injury. While the veteran’s shoulder injury was service-connected, the veteran was charged with fraud for pretending the injury left him permanently disabled.
IG Squads filmed the veteran at a local park playing football, and using his “bad shoulder” to toss footballs more than 50 yards at a time.
A veteran who was service-connected at 100% with PTSD, had his rating dropped to 0% after he was seen at a VA function playing tennis, and cooking BBQ for other veterans in attendance. A VA inspector used a spy-like camera-pen to record the veteran engaged in a VA social function.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “The severity of my disability is real, and the VA has proof.” Which, by the way, is the case for 99% of veterans with service-connected disabilities. However, all it takes is for one person to report you to the VA for fraud, and the next thing you know you’re being investigated without your knowing of it. You don’t want VA “IG Squads” snooping around your home or business looking for the first sign of what they believe to be fraud.
This is not an attempt to frighten you or cause some degree of oversensitivity to the issue of fraud. It is only an attempt to make you aware that VA IG inspectors are watching you. Always!