Metro-East News

Roger That: Scammers using U.S. mail to rip off Tricare beneficiaries

News-Democrat

Attention all Tricare beneficiaries: someone out there is using the U.S. mail to try to scam you out of money from your bank account, according to Military Times.

The Defense Health Agency is warning Tricare beneficiaries of an elaborate mail scam designed to steal money from their banks. According to the DHA Office of Program Integrity, some Tricare beneficiaries received letters from a bogus company called Tricare Survey Inc., offering them the chance to work as “secret shoppers.”

The mailings instruct recipients to cash enclosed checks for $3,775 at their banks, keep a percentage of the money for themselves and use the rest to buy six $500 shopping cards to be used at retailers for “secret shopping” excursions.

But when recipients report the card numbers to the company, as instructed in the letters, the fraudsters use the numbers to transfer the amount to their own accounts

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, last month announced a new program to develop distributed drones that can be recovered in the air via a C-130 transport plane, and then prepped for re-use 24 hours later. They’re calling them Gremlins, according to DefenseOne.

The agency is looking for some sort of drone system that’s smarter than a missile but cheaper than a jet, good for about 20 uses.

They would work something like this: They would encircle their target, an enemy jet fighter, in a precise and choreographed dance and begin a series of electromagnetic attacks, jamming the radar and the communications.

“The jet’s instruments begin to behave strangely. The pilot takes aim but there are too many of them. He’s been swarmed. As quickly as they appear, the drones are gone, vanished into the underbelly of a low-flying bomber that’s now climbing away,” according to the DefenseOne article. “With his communications and targeting equipment fried, the pilot must return to base. He’s been effectively neutralized and the culprits are nowhere to be seen.”

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Confirmed cases of abuse and neglect of military children increased markedly in 2014, Defense Department data showed on Wednesday, prompting concerns among Pentagon about efforts to safeguard the nation’s over 1 million military children, the Washington Post reported.

In fiscal year 2014, officials tracking family violence within the military confirmed 7,676 cases of child abuse or neglect, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year, according to annual statistics on child abuse and domestic violence. Confirmed cases of neglect – which excludes physical and sexual abuse – rose by 14 percent, military officials said.

The data, which has not been released publicly and was obtained by the Washington Post, contrasts with a years-long decline in child abuse and neglect among civilian families nationwide.

The number of abused and neglected military children dropped steadily from 2004 until 2008, when it began to rise again.

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The Washington Post is also reporting that the share of federal jobs going to veterans is at its highest level in five years, new data shows, with former service members comprising almost half of full-time hires in the last fiscal year.

One in three people in government is now a veteran, proof that the White House’s six-year push to give those who served in the military a leg up in the long hiring queue for federal jobs is working.

The bad news is that once veterans get into government, they don’t stay long. They’re more likely to leave their jobs within two years than non-veterans, the Office of Personnel Management reports, even if they’ve transferred from other federal agencies.

The Small Business Administration had the most trouble keeping veterans in fiscal 2014, with just 62 percent staying two years or more, compared to 88 percent of non-veterans. Former service members left the Commerce Department at similar rates, with 68 percent staying two years or more compared to 82 percent for non-veterans.

Even the Department of Veterans Affairs, traditionally a draw for former troops, lost a little more than a quarter of its veterans within two years, compared to 20 percent of its non-veterans.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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