A Pennsylvania man is being held accountable for lying about his military service and violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Tapan Patel, of Bucks County, allegedly made misrepresentations of his military service for the purpose of obtaining employment.
Patel was in fact a former Junior Enlisted Service member who never served in combat. When applying for jobs, Patel was dishonest about his status as an officer, lied about combat service, and misrepresented various awards and decorations including the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, and “Navy War Medal,” which is not an actual award of the U.S. Navy.
“This man’s decision to lie about military service and awards for personal gain is disgraceful,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “His actions not only violate the Stolen Valor Act, they dishonor the heroic women and men who have sacrificed to serve our country and who have been awarded the military’s highest awards. By holding him accountable, my Office is working to protect the honors our veterans have earned.”
A settlement reached with Patel provides for $10,000 in civil penalties and costs, $2,500 of which is suspended.
Patel is also enjoined from violating the Stolen Valor Act and the Consumer Protection Law. Any violations of the agreement would subject Patel to the $2,500 civil penalty as well as an enhanced penalty of $5,000.
As Veterans Day approaches, Attorney General Shapiro and his Bureau of Consumer Protection are also providing tips for veterans to avoid being scammed and ensure they have the best possible assistance when filing claims for their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits:
• Don’t pay for a service that is free. It is illegal for an accredited veterans’ service officer to accept any form of payment from veterans.
• Be cautious when you receive an unsolicited offer for services from an unknown source.
• Do research on the VA website into both the entity you are considering working with and the claims process.
• Follow recommendations and referrals of fellow veterans who have had successful experiences filing VA benefit claims with specific veterans service organizations. Always ask to see the representative’s accreditation credentials.
• Work with only certified veterans service organizations with the relevant training these are listed on the VA website and include representatives of organizations such as; PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, County Veteran Affairs Directors, and other organizations.
If you suspect that someone is misrepresenting their status as a Service member or a Veteran or the nature of their goods or services, or you are a victim of a veterans scam, file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs by calling 717-783-1944 or emailing PAvets@attorneygeneral.gov.