We have gotten a lot of emails lately asking us about Military members overseas asking for cash from civilians, mainly women, to come home for leave from Afghanistan or telling the women that they have a very sick child that they need to come home and see.
They are also taking the photos of real Military members from Facebook and other Social Media, and using them to create these fake Facebook profiles and dating site profiles. They will take any photo they come across that depicts a Military member, they are also taking photos of our Fallen Warriors as well.
They also like to tell people that they are widowed and caring for the child/children alone. It is always some sort of story to make the victim feel pity for the fraudster.
They mainly target women that have no Military affiliation, or have never been around the Military, this way they know the women won’t pick up on their lies as fast. We get ten to twenty emails per day asking if a profile is really a Soldier, and 99% of the time it is a scammer. For most of us, they are easy to pick out, because we are familiar with the Military and know how it operates.
Most of these fake profiles have several things that should stick out:
1. They will have very few friends on the profile, of which most will be women or other fake profiles.
2. Most of the posts will be short sentences, with broken English and misspelled words.
3. They will not have many photos, and the uniform name tapes may not match the profile name.
4. Military members almost always have other friends on their profile that are also Military, these fakes will not have any. Or if they do, that profile will be fake as well.
5. If they ask for items(care packages) they ask for you to send them to overseas addresses that are not affiliated with the Military, Nigeria etc.
The forms they are sending to these people are very convincing, especially if you are not familiar with the military and the way leave works. First, no one can sign for a Military personnel to go on leave except the Chain of Command. If they are coming home from overseas on emergency leave, from a Combat Zone, as a lot of the scammer’s are saying, they would not have to pay to come home. The government covers travel to and from the HOR(Home of Record). If they are coming home for scheduled R&R, from the Combat Zone, the Government also covers this.
You should never send money via Western Union to someone you have never met, as Western Union is an unsafe way to send money, because once it is sent you will never get it back. Some of these civilians were scammed out of thousands of dollars. These scammers are praying on the hearts of the civilians that care so much for our troops fighting for us overseas, and they feel like they are helping out by helping someone in the Military.
One email I read was supposedly from a Soldiers Chain of Command, and told the woman that he had been Wounded In Action and evacuated to a hospital in the United Kingdom. First off, when a Soldier is wounded and has to be Medically evacuated out of country, they are sent to Germany first most of the time.
Here is a quote from one of the emails:
There is no problem with the form one of the two Us Army logo is a seal and after you fill it and the approval is been send to you the other seal will be put on the form.
Thanks for your understanding
Us Army Vacation office”
There is no such thing as the US Army Vacation office!
Here is another email from this address: USA kabul <email@example.com>
“We are sorry to inform you that Major Aaron Perez has been injured in an attack on friday .He has been flown to a Military hospital in the United Kingdom. It is normal protocol that we must inform Major Aaron Perez family the situation of things here.We are not sure if he would make it yet but we hope he survives any infection from his wounds and he could return back to his duty post.
Major Aaron Perez is a member of the U.S Navy Seals because of the secretive nature of his job, we want you to keep our correspondence with you confidential.If you wish that he is released to you immediately.Attached with this email is the Policy and Instructions for Leave Request,if you agree with the terms for his leave. please print it out, endorse and send it back to us via email.”
This is the form he sent:
THIS IS A FAKE FORM NOT AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT
Another document attached to the email, these are listed as instructions, again another fake form.
And another form by the Army Vacation Board:
And a fake DFAS Finance form:
Here is another fake email:
From: US FIANCE
Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:22 PM
\Your request have been successful added to the Us Army marriage Department Database ……….
Us Army Marriage Department
No such thing as US Army Marriage Department!
Here are a few more fraudulent forms:
And this one is an almost good fake, it is a Military leave form, we have highlighted a few mistakes on the form:
Here are some of the fake email addresses they tried to make look official:
These are just a few examples of the scams going around using military members as the center. Because these scumbags know that the American people love our Military, and most will do what they can to help. The scams are becoming more and more complicated as time goes by. For a civilian that is not subjected to the military a lot, and do not understand how it operates, they take the word of these douches. Especially when they use pictures of Soldiers and their family members.
Remember a Soldier deployed to a combat zone does not need funds to go home, nor can anyone sign forms for that Soldier to go on leave. Even in an emergency, the Soldiers family must contact the Red Cross and the Red Cross must contact the Soldiers unit for anything other that regular R&R!
Here are a few tips to help you avoid scams, and some basic tips for protecting your identity as provided by one of our fans educated in this area:
- Never give out personal information
- Never give out banking information or credit card numbers
- Understand that wiring money is just like sending cash and is usually untraceable
- Give only to established charities after disasters, instead of one that is built over night
- Do not send money to someone you do not know
- Do not agree to deposit a check and wire money back
- Do not reply to messages requesting personal and/or financial information
- Never pay fees for the promise of a big pay off later-whether its for a loan, job or prize
- Research the company and/or person requesting information or money
- Never use a debit card or checking/savings account online-use a credit card because charges can then be disputed
- Do not wire money to strangers, sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or anyone who claims to be a relative or family friend in an emergency who wants to keep the request a secret
- Do not click on links or call phone numbers included in messages-this is called phishing.
- Never accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story.
- Consider using an online payment service. They often offer more protection.
- Avoid any ad offering a “work at home” career that requests personal information and a monetary investment for “start up” costs.
- Delete emails stating that you have won a foreign lottery or online sweepstakes. Any letter or email from a lottery or sweepstakes that asks you to pay taxes, fees, shipping, or insurance to claim your prize, especially when requesting a wire transfer to pay these fees, IS A SCAM. It is illegal to play a foreign lottery.
- DO NOT WIRE MONEY TO SOMEONE OVERSEAS
- Beware of emails from foreigners, people stating they are soldiers, and anyone from Nigeria. Delete these emails and do NOT respond.
- Never meet anyone from the internet alone, especially if it includes traveling to deliver money, or visiting a person in a certain country who is requesting money via email. People who have responded to these emails have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.
- Report scams to your state Attorney General
- Visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft to find out how to minimize your risk of identity theft
- Report unsolicited email offers and/or spam to firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information regarding Internet Safety, Common Scams, and how to avoid scams, visit www.onguardonline.gov
And as always, if you’re not sure, ask questions! We will be glad to answer any questions you may have it helps avoid you being taken advantage of by these scam artists! There is no such thing as a dumb question, ask, ask, ask!!!
Feel free to send us an email if you are not sure the person you are speaking with is a Military member.
Ok here is an addition to the fake documents, they are now producing fake CAC Cards. They are photo shopping them and sending them to victims as proof they are Military.
Also these scam artists are beginning to use services to make it seem like they are where they say they are. Google Talk and Skype offer services where you can buy a number from anywhere in the United States and other countries. This makes it possible for the scammers to convince the victim they are where they say by providing them with a “local” phone number.
They are also beginning to elicit help from criminals here in the US, they will have the victims wire the money to a person here within the US, that person then wires the money to the scammer. They keep a percentage of the money in return for being the go-between. Help us stop these criminals from taking advantage of these unsuspecting victims.
If you see something like this taking place, step in, shoot a message to the victim and explain why you think they are being scammed. These scams are increasing in occurrence, because they are working. Last our these Military/Romance scams sucked more than $100 Million out of the US Economy!
I had an email where the woman was so distraught over the plight of a Soldier who claimed to have been wounded, and needed money to get home from Germany, that she re-mortgaged her home and wired $48,000 to Nigeria! Yes, I actually spoke to this woman, unfortunately she did not contact me until after the scam took place.
Stay vigilant, and NEVER send money to someone you have never met! Also do not send items like laptops, phones etc to someone you do not know! If you have doubts about someone you have met online, send us an email. We would rather see a hundred emails coming in, than one American dollar sent to a scammer!
If you are a Military member, make sure your photos on Facebook are set so no one but your friends can see them. This can help to ensure your photos are not stolen.