Polk man admits lying about being war hero, but still drives with Purple Heart license plate

FROSTPROOF, Fla. - He claimed to be a war hero, but his story just didn't add up. Now Harold Kauffman admits to ABC Action News that he lied.

Locals in the Lake Wales area said Kauffman often bragged about earning two Purple Hearts in Vietnam.

He even drives a truck with a special license plate dedicated to wounded combat veterans that only Purple Heart recipients can get.

"I never officially received paperwork or received a Purple Heart from the United States Air Force," he admitted Friday when confronted by a reporter.

"Did you ever claim that you were?" we asked

"I might have. I think I did," Kauffman said.

"How did you get the license plate?" we asked.

"I'm not going to say anything more, sir," he said.

He wouldn't say. But the discharge papers he provided the VFW post in Lake Wales may explain it.

The papers said he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star in Vietnam, but Kauffman showed ABC Action News a similar form where there's no mention of medals or even Vietnam.

He denied manipulating the form.

"If he comes in again, he'll be escorted out by the police," said Gerald Menard, commander of the VFW Post in Lake Wales. "He said he had two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. We looked it up on the database and he doesn't have anything like that."

This case comes just a week after another alleged fraudster surfaced, Ed Cameron.

His story of being a Purple Heart recipient was so convincing that his face ended up on a county Purple Heart bus that has since been replaced with someone who actually deserves it.

"How can somebody do that?" Menard said. "They're cowards in my opinion. Trying to be something that they're not."

In the new case, Kauffman's neighbors told ABC Action News that he once claimed he once worked for the FBI and CIA.

"I don't believe him. He's a habitual liar," one neighbor told us.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles is now looking into the situation. A spokesman said employees issue the plates after viewing proof of the medal that the recipient provides. The spokesman said they do not make copies of the documents.

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