Army Impersonators Scam Women on Dating, Social-Networking Sites

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The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has received frequent reports of scams involving individuals pretending to be U.S. soldiers, who get romantically involved on the Internet with female victims and then steal their money.

“We are seeing a number of scams being perpetrated on the Internet, especially on social, dating-type websites where females are the main target,” said Chris Grey, Army CID’s spokesman.

The fraudsters are pretending to be U.S. servicemen, often serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. They will often take the true rank and name of a soldier and then combine that with photographs of a soldier found on the Internet to build a false identity to lure victims.

The scams often involve requests for money from the victim to purchase laptops, international phones and transportation fees to be used by the “deployed soldier,” so their fictitious relationship can continue. Victims of these scams have been duped to send money, often thousands of dollars at a time, to a third-party address so the phone or laptop can be purchased for the soldier.

“We’ve even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to ‘purchase leave papers’ from the Army, or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone,” Grey said.

Army CID is warning people to be very suspicious if they begin an online relationship with someone claiming to be an American soldier who within a matter of weeks is asking for money or marriage. Many of these cases have a distinct pattern to them, explained Grey.

“These are not soldiers, they are thieves,” he said.

The perpetrators often tell the victims that their units do not have telephones or they are not allowed to make calls or they need money to “help keep the Army Internet running.”

“We’ve even seen where the crooks said that the Army won’t allow the soldier to access their personal bank accounts or credit cards,” Grey said.

All lies, according to CID officials.

“These perpetrators, often from other countries, most notably from Ghana, Angola and Nigeria, are good at what they do and quite familiar with American culture, but the claims about the Army and its regulations are ridiculous,” Grey said.

To date, there have been no reports to Army CID indicating any U.S. service members have suffered any financial loss as a result of these scams. Photographs and actual names of service members have been the only thing used. On the contrary, the victims have lost thousands.

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