07/21/13 — Airmen educated on scam artists

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Airmen educated on scam artists

By John Joyce
Published in News on July 21, 2013 1:50 AM

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper joined 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeannie Leavitt at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Thursday to educate airmen on how to become "hard targets" for scam artists.

"Our service men and women volunteer and put their life on the line -- we owe it to them to protect them," Cooper said.

Young military members make easy targets for scam artists and shady business practices designed to get people into debt and keep them there, he warned.

"Scam Jam," what Cooper's Consumer Protection Division is calling its prevention and education tour, has made stops at Camp Lejune and now Seymour.

The AG and staff will make their way to Fort Bragg in late August or September.

Payday loan places and car dealerships sometimes target service people because they tend to be young, financially inexperienced and have a regular, albeit meager, paycheck, Cooper said.

"Of course, 99 percent of businesses are great, welcoming and have an outstanding relationship with our military."

Cooper cited numerous local, national and even international scams that prey on the unsuspecting.

Lt. Col. Debra Luker, Staff Judge Advocate General for the Fourth Fighter Wing, said her office is open to all active duty, retired and dependents (military family members) who might need legal advice before or even after they run into trouble.

"We have a great partnership with North Carolina, with law enforcement and with the community," Lt. Col. Luker said.

Prior to the presentation and answering questions from airmen on safe financial practices, Cooper and Leavitt met with Goldsboro Mayor Al King and members of the City Council and Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

That meeting was not open to the public, but Cooper mentioned that it was productive.

Mayor King was unavailable for comment.

Legislation has been passed banning the operation of payday lenders in North Carolina, Cooper said. And just this year it was made illegal for debt relief and debt consolidation agencies to ask for money up front before services are provided.

Prevention is key because even though his office works with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute criminal cases of fraud and deception, and victims can also file civil suits, it is very difficult to get restitution in those types of cases, Cooper said.

Anyone, military or civilian, believing they have or are about to become a victim of a financial scam can contact the N.C. Department of Justice at 1-877-5-No-Scam or go to NCDOJ.gov for assistance.