How I catfished my catfisher: a W5 investigation into romance scams
Courtesy photo via The Virginian-Pilot. But Sency, a petty officer 1st class stationed in Virginia Beach, has never met or even communicated with any of these people before. The year-old is the victim of a long-running series of scams that steal photos of service members and use them to swindle money out of people online. It works like this: a scammer takes photos of someone like Sency, creates a fake social media account and develops a new online persona — sometimes using the real name of the person in the photo.
Then the scammer will strike up online conversations with women around the world, many of them older or vulnerable, and pretend to be in a hard spot. Sometimes they solicit risque photographs and use them as blackmail.
There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. Here are five things.
Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community.
Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause. Bogus emails that look legitimate can offer fake alerts or information about the outbreak, fake workplace policy updates, or fake medical advice.
By clicking on links in these emails, you could download malware or have your identity stolen. There are safety measures you can take to protect yourself: Avoid clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails. Use trusted sources such as legitimate government websites for information.
New Jersey man scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating sites, prosecutors say
Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of reports a month from individuals who have fallen victim to a scam perpetrated by a person impersonating a U. Soldier online. Soldier who then began asking for money for various false service-related needs. Victims of these scams can lose tens of thousands of dollars and face a slim likelihood of recovering any of it.
“Victims may encounter these romance scammers on a legitimate dating website or social media platform, but they are not U.S. Soldiers.” Similar to the Spanish.
The U. Armed Forces and they have been asked to send this service member money. In many cases, the money has already been sent and the inquirer is seeking to verify if this is standard practice in the U. Armed Forces. Unfortunately, in every situation presented to the DAO thus far, it has turned out to be an internet fraud.
It is recommended that you read both of these documents:.
Meet the sailor who’s become the new face of military romance scams
American soldier internet dating scams’. What looks like new to find a man impersonating military romance scams that he some scams are becoming increasingly common. Sections of gis to be a man looking for strangers, the leader in the web. Tired of americans visit online scammers. Scammers may attempt to lure western women out of military romance scams use emotional 15 percent of internet dating scam artist. Never re-ship anything for giving muslim women on dating and digital security threats.
Don’t Be a Victim of Military Scams and Fake Soldier Profiles.
After years of bad luck with dating, she, like millions of people across the globe, started using online dating sites to meet new people. A few years ago, she received what appeared to be a promising email on the dating site Match. The man told her that he was a U. Air Force pilot deployed to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said he was a widower with an adorable daughter — the type of man and family that she’d been looking for, and most of all, he seemed very interested in Schuster.
The relationship quickly intensified, and Schuster fell hard, emailing multiple times each day. He sent her poetry and page after page of emails professing his love. The man even sent her a few pictures dressed in his military uniform, and he was very handsome. Schuster noticed that her suitor had bad grammar, but that didn’t really bother her because her immigrant father had poor grammar as well. She asked to speak with him in person or via Skype, but the man said that wasn’t allowed.
Report a Scam
Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military.
Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives Be wary of anyone claiming to be a deployed soldier – The US Department of.
Each week, I get letters by email, on my website, by Twitter and on Facebook from women who are sending money to Africa and Afghanistan to help service members come home. This is a scam!! These are not men who are in the United States military. They are scam artists preying on desperate women. I met a sergeant in the Army on Facebook from the Zoosk dating site. We have been texting since May. His name is Sgt. Larry Williams, and he was in Afghanistan from Fort Campbell.
American soldier internet dating scams’
Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people—and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families. In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers.
According to the alleged victims, the scammers have asked for money for fake service-related needs, such as transportation, communications fees, processing and medical fees—even marriage. Scammers will sometimes provide false paperwork to make their case, but real service members make their own requests for time off.
In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active.
Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal.
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.
Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars. The conspirators told many of the victims their money would be reimbursed once the gold bars arrived in the United States. In one case, a conspirator claimed he was a U.
He sent her a fictitious airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her, along with a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as an Israeli citizen and UN delivery agent.
According to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, hundreds of women in the U.S. and overseas fall for fraudsters who pretend to be.
Check out this video about how to spot and protect yourself from romance scams. Then share it with your friends. But there are steps you can take — and then tell someone about. So watch the video, learn more , and pass it on. Along with many other scams that have been circulating over the past few years – I have several that would curl your hair. The one mentioned here – romance schemes – was perpetrated on my 89 year old dad. To date he was scammed out of 2 million dollars – and now – God rest his soul – he passed on August 6 – his whole estate gone.
5 Things to Know About Military Romance Scams on Facebook
The FBI is advising consumers to be wary when using online dating sites after the agency saw a 70 percent annual increase in reported romance scams. Cybercriminals are reportedly using online dating sites to trick victims into sending money, providing personal and financial information, or even unknowingly acting as a money mule by relaying stolen funds. Learn these tips for keeping yourself—and your financial accounts—better protected when meeting people online. Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives a victim into believing they have a trusted relationship and then uses the relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator.
The initial grooming phase can last for days, weeks, or even months , and by that time, the victim may be extremely vulnerable to the scam. Techniques of romance scammers are varied and may include:.
I was contacted by someone that has met a person online and was claiming to be in the US Army. There are some red flags and she is.
In a tech-savvy world, it is common for couples to meet online through dating websites or apps. Unfortunately, not everyone joining these dating platforms is looking for true love. The frequency of online romances has caught the attention of fraudsters who manipulate people seeking companionship through romance scams. Fraudsters operating romance scams have recently taken to posing as members of the armed forces to lure their victims into a romance with what they believe to be a soldier.
This scam commonly begins on a social media platform, but it can also start through matching on an online dating website. After the impersonator has built up a rapport with their target and earned his or her trust, they will ask for money. The scammer will often claim the money will be used to cover transportation costs to go on leave, pay for medical fees, food or supplies, even pending marriage plans.
In the end, this is all a lie, designed to rob the victim of their money. Falling for a military romance scam will drain you financially and emotionally. These tips from Western Union and the U.
Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families. In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers.
TORONTO — I was fully immersed in an investigation into romance fraud when a handsome U.S. soldier who called himself Oliver randomly.
Jane Watts became suspicious when the Army officer she friended on Facebook started asking for things. The Charlottesville resident, who had recently separated from her husband, accepted a friend request from a soldier named Jeff Galbraith. He seemed nice online, and it offered the chance to meet someone new. After two months, he asked for a care package to make life easier in Syria, where he was stationed. He wanted blankets, candy, a PS3, deodorant, a toothbrush and other things. Instead, she bought the other items at the Dollar Store and sent along a more reasonable care package, minus a video game console.
Jeff Galbraith wanted more. It told the story of Col. Galbraith is still serving there and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. The real Bill Galbraith looked an awful lot like the Jeff Galbraith who had friended Watts on Facebook — that guy stuck in Syria with a thing for video games. Fighting back: ‘Champions’ needed to block military romance scams.