A Tax Service company has reportedly been scamming Navy veterans.

Located just outside the gates of the San Diego Naval Base, the “Go Navy Tax Services” had been reaching out to veterans for the past year with the promise of helping them with their finances and taxes. No catches…everything is free!

Many have seen sailors and veterans come into the office filled with Navy flags and memorabilia, so most would leave any suspicions they had at the door. They were then invited to their “free tax preparation” seminar, where they would get to meet their “certified accountants.” Okay, so that sounds legit too, what happens is the accountants would push (most of the time, forcefully) for retirees to open accounts with them. During the process, veterans were also asked for personal information via their forms and would even ask them to sign paperwork (that was not fully explained to them).

This is the scam that Paul Flanagan and his associates run at this establishment.

Attendees display their patriotism during a Veterans Day ceremony in Belleville, Ill., Nov. 11, 2012. (Source: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service/getarchive)

Nearly 5,000 veteran applications from on-duty sailors and Marines were reported, but some of them didn’t open the so-called “retirement account.” Instead, they were sold life insurance policies without their knowledge. The paperwork also included a fine line that allowed Go Navy Tax Services to withdraw from sailors’ bank accounts.

“The victims of this scam were Navy sailors serving our country and were tricked into signing up for something they didn’t need and couldn’t afford,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.

This gave Flanagan and his “co-conspirators” access to more than $2 million in “commissions” for over a decade in their scam. Overall, veterans reportedly lost about $4.8 million.

“Service members have given so much to our country,” Xavier Becerra, then the California attorney general, said in a statement after Flanagan and his associates were indicted on 69 counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery, identity theft, and grand theft, among other things, in 2019. “They should not have to worry about being targeted and taken advantage of by malicious scammers.”