Scammers Target Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Victims in Latest Identity Theft Scheme

PENSACOLA, Fla. – In a recent federal court order, Judge M. Casey Rodgers of the district court declared, “THIS IS A SCAM.” The judge’s order shed light on unsolicited calls and emails sent to potential claimants in the 3M earplug litigation, warning them about scammers attempting to obtain personal information. This case involves combat veterans who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus due to allegedly defective earplugs manufactured by 3M. The settlement for this mass tort product liability case amounts to $6 billion, potentially benefiting around 260,000 veterans.

Interestingly, the tactics employed by these scammers closely resemble those seen in another litigation case, the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. In this case, attorney advertisements soliciting clients have become rampant, bringing attention to the decades-long leakage of toxic chemicals from underground storage tanks at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. While the statute of limitations for personal injury claims resulting from exposure had expired under North Carolina law, a new law signed by President Joe Biden, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, allowed for a wave of over a thousand lawsuits seeking justice for the victims.

To streamline the process of reviewing and compensating deserving claimants, the Department of the Navy implemented an administrative settlement procedure called the “elective option.” Claimants can voluntarily submit compensation claims to the Navy, which then evaluates the documentation provided and offers settlements based on strict criteria. Over 93,000 administrative claims have been received so far. However, filing an administrative claim does not preclude claimants from pursuing civil lawsuits.

Unfortunately, scammers and fraudulent actors have emerged in this process, targeting claimants with promises of quick and substantial payments. Just like in the 3M case, potential victims of the Camp Lejeune settlement may receive calls or emails urging them to click on links or provide sensitive information. These scams can expose individuals to malware, identity theft, or financial loss. Furthermore, fraudulent claimants who never resided near Camp Lejeune or used 3M earplugs seek compensation from the settlement funds. While the settlement administration and claims approval processes strive to identify and eliminate invalid claims, there are concerns that the screening process might be overly rigorous, potentially excluding legitimate claims.

It is worth noting the role of plaintiff lawyers representing the filed lawsuits in the Camp Lejeune case. Contrary to some websites claiming a ” $21 billion” settlement fund, no such fund currently exists. Although the total amount paid by the US government through litigation and settlements could potentially reach that figure, the situation is far from certain. Media advertisements by law firms and marketing agencies create an optimistic and possibly misleading perception of the complexities of this litigation, potentially giving claimants false expectations of a substantial payout.

As this case unfolds, it is crucial for full transparency regarding the risks and potential outcomes to be provided to clients during the intake process.