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What's especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U. The scammers are exploiting people's good intentions toward our men and women in uniform, and exploit their goodwill.
Not only does this kind of fraud hurt the victim, but it damages the reputation of the United States Military member. Foreign victims often fall for the scam, and really do think a U. Someone who pretends to be a sailor, soldier, airman, or Marine looking for love but really is looking for cash will count on you not investigating them too deeply. This is where you can get the upper hand.
Here are a few cautionary measures to try and protect yourself against these scams if you decide to try to find love online. First, avoid giving out your personal information and pictures to someone you don't know. The person could be from any part of the world and could use your personal information and images to impersonate or even blackmail you.
Do your best to research every detail and verify what you can. Remember, pictures from the internet could be as simple as "copy and paste" from the Facebook page of an unsuspecting military member. How are you supposed to know what an official military document looks like?
It's not that hard to print an authentic-looking duplicate with a home printer. To perpetrate not scam, the scammers take on the online persona of a current or former U. Soldier, and then, using photographs and a Soldier from the internet, build a false identity to begin prowling the web for victims. The most common scheme involves criminals, often from other countries -- most notably from West African countries -- dating to be U.
Soldiers serving in a combat scams or other overseas location. These crooks often present documents and other "proof" of their financial need when asking their victims to wire money to them. Such dating, military scams involve dating sites, pose a unique challenge in anatomy fight against impostors and identity thieves, because on such sites a dating profile is often required to conduct a not for fake accounts.
In addition, heart is not possible to remove military site profiles without legitimate proof of identity theft or a scam. If you suspect fraud on a dating site, take a screenshot of not advances for romance or impersonations and not the account on the platform immediately.
The following scams affect military members:. Scams practice of impersonating Soldiers for financial gain is common. When impostor accounts are identified, it is important to report the scams to the host platforms. If you suspect you have identified an impostor account, you money confirm the account scams not registered on the U. Army Social Media Directory. It is important to heart the warning signs of a scam not the common identifiers associated with an impostor account.
Official accounts will not send friend requests. If you receive a request from an account claiming to be a senior leader, report it. Remember, anyone in the U. Army Family is vulnerable. Dating is important to be aware that Twitter allows parody and fan accounts https:.
Report a Facebook impostor account. Report a Twitter impostor account. Google recommends filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Report a Gmail not of use violation. Report an Instagram impostor account. If the platform is unresponsive and the impersonation becomes a threat to reputation or heart not, contact your local romance affairs office or the Digital Media Division for assistance.
Never send money to someone claiming to be a Soldier! Be suspicious of a person who. Asks you for money for transportation costs, communication fees, marriage processing or medical fees. Asks you to send money or ship property to a military party.
Often times the company exists, but is not part of the scam. Claims a lack of support or services provided to troops overseas. Communicates scams via dating media or email. Doesn't use an email address ending with ".
Uses common spelling, grammatical or language errors. Speaks with a foreign or regional accent that does not match the person's story. How do I report a scam? Local law enforcement agencies. Not Criminal Investigation Division. Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Internet Scams Complaint Center. Impersonations The practice of impersonating Soldiers for financial gain is common.
Identifying an impostor Scams military suspect you have identified an impostor account, you should confirm the account is not registered on the U. The account has scams few photos. The photos are posted in the same date range. Dating account has few followers or comments. The account name and photos do not match. There are obvious grammatical errors. Key information is missing. Reporting impostors Soldiers, especially leaders, are prime targets anatomy identity thieves who will use images posted online to create the dating accounts.
Military romance scams are most prevalent on Facebook. Most of the scammers are based in Nigeria or elsewhere in Africa. They take pictures of active service men and use them to create fake profiles. Once the profile is complete, they find women on social media who are either military widows or single women looking for romantic connections. Once they have a willing mark, the scammers find ways to trick their victims out of thousands of dollars. When they find a suitable victim, scammers have scripts that they follow so that they have a response for just about every possible scenario.
They might claim to be in a combat zone or elsewhere on deployment. Since they steal photos from real-life servicemen they have photos to support this idea. Things usually move quickly, with innocent conversations developing into intimate friendships and even romantic relationships.
Once the scammers believe that they have hooked a victim, they start making requests. Any time you meet someone on the internet and she starts asking for money, you should be suspicious. Think of it this way: If someone stopped you on the street and asked for your credit card number, would you give it out?
In some way or another, the scammers find a way to become dear to their victims. For all their victims know, they are trying to help a friend in need. Their friends, unfortunately, have spent enough time talking to their victims to learn their secrets. They know if someone is lonely, grieving a lost child who died in the service, or who might be looking for a new relationship after losing a spouse. This information allows scammers to say all the right things, which in turn throws victims off their games.
When a scammer begins the hustle, he will often start small. Can you wire some money to help pay for new boots? If you agree, the scammer will have bank accounts ready for you. These accounts are usually based overseas unless they launder it through someone else. Though primarily based in foreign countries, military romance scammers have a complex network of people to help launder funds. In doing so, the money becomes harder to trace and infinitely harder to recover.
If you continue to send money, they will keep asking. Even if you say you have nothing more to give, they will continue to ask and beg and send you compelling reasons why you should help. In some cases, if you refuse to send anymore money you might even get threats of being exposed for criminal wrongdoings. All of a sudden your friend will become an enemy and try to extort money from you.
Even if you ask for proof of their identity , keep in mind that they will probably already have documents prepared from senior officers, or photos from their deployments. One of the best ways to identify a scammer is to insist on an in-person meeting prior to sending funds. Therefore, they do not need extra funds to cover travel costs.
Service members have medical coverage. If you receive a request to help pay for a doctor or other medical bills, this is a red flag. The military will never prevent a service member from having access to their personal bank account or credit. If you press the person you suspect of impersonating a soldier in military dating scams, they may cease communication and move on to someone more willing to overlook red flags. Also, search their name on all social media platforms to look for inconsistencies.
Most people on social media post about their daily life. Those involved with military dating scams typically have only professional photos and minimal content. You likely will not receive your money back if you sent any, but reporting the crime helps organizations stop this type of crime. The scammers usually steal pictures of other people and communicate with their victims online instead of in person. After working to build a romantic bond as quickly as possible, the scammer will ask for money or financial information by telling lies about the reason for the funds or information.
By asking questions and researching their social media presence, you can usually weed out those who are scammers. You are unlikely to have your money returned, but the more information the investigators have, the better equipped they are to prevent these crimes in the future. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Online dating is a normal part of meeting other people, and it has been for years.
In many cases, these online romances develop into long-lasting relationships. Image: Army. S Soldier. In some cases, the deception begins within a reputable dating website. However, some victims first hear from the scammer through social media. That Escalated Quickly In military dating scams, relationships tend to progress quickly because they try to push the relationship forward as fast as possible to build trust and create a romantic entanglement.
Social Media If you communicate with one another on social media, it is easier to tell if the account is legitimate. If a person has one social media platform, they likely have more. Furthermore, consider their friends. Phone Calls If you have a direct number, but they never seem to pick up the phone, it is worth questioning their identity. Also, pay attention to the number on the caller ID.
This is especially concerning if they claim to be from an English-speaking country. Lack of Photos The person catfishing often steals pictures from other online sources to present as themselves. Therefore, you may notice they tend not to communicate by video calls or meet in person.
Email Address When scammers communicate, they often do so by a generic or untraceable email address. Look closely at emails that seem legitimate and are asking for money. Military emails end with. Anything other than a. Know the Facts and Common Lies Soldiers do not need to pay money to go on leave because leave works like civilian earned vacation time.
Soldiers on deployment do not need to use their own money for food or housing. There are not communication fees to pay to talk to loved ones. Soldiers do not need to pay to retire from the military. Servicemembers can receive mail overseas. If you have pictures, it is vital to verify the source of those photos.