With the internet being so easily accessible these days, millions of people turn to online dating sites or social media to find a potential love interest. More unfortunate, military romance scams involve military members being scammed or the scammers posing as members of the military and stealing their online identities. Here is everything you need to know about who an online romance scammer is, what the red flags are of an online romance scam , and some tips to avoid falling for them in the future. An online romance scammer is someone who creates a fake dating profile or social media account and targets people that are looking for love by striking up a relationship with them, only to take advantage of them later on by asking for money. The scammer will make up a fake story that requires money and asks their victims to send it to them. Some of these fake stories include things like, buying a plane ticket to come visit them, needing money for hospital or medical bills, visa fees, or other travel document fees. Scammers will then get their victims to send them money via a wire transfer or through online gift cards such as Amazon. This type of payment will often allow them to stay anonymous and these transactions are almost always irreversible. If you have met someone online that says they are a member of the military — an army soldier, a sailor, a marine, or an airman then it is very important to make sure their claims are legitimate. This is because more often than not an online romance scammer is someone who is claiming to be a member of the military.
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.
Online Dating Scammers Pose as U.S. Military Personnel. Be careful: That ‘officer’ may be no gentleman. by Katherine Skiba, AARP, February.
Learn more. Hundreds of times a day, women here and overseas complain about being scammed by con artists posing as U. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Grey has made it a personal crusade to warn the public about the online scams that are using men in uniform as bait to reel in women who hand over cash in the name of love.
Most of the victims are women in the U. The 2,person command Grey serves is in Quantico, Va. Thus it lacks jurisdiction to probe the barrage of incoming calls, since the service personnel are not victimized beyond having their names and photos misappropriated. Still, what Grey likens to a game of whack-a-mole has become a priority for him as he battles the problem through public education and media outreach.
Online Dating Scam: ‘Military Guy’ Steals Widow’s Heart and Nearly $500,000
Scammers have caught on. The US Army Criminal Investigation Command has issued a warning to anyone dating a military service-person online claiming to be deployed overseas to be cautious. They have even organized task forces to deal with the rise in online dating scams in which a scammer will create a fake dating site or dating app profile using photos from military personnel deployed overseas.
was a U.S. military personnel stationed overseas looking for romance. military personnel and scamming women through online dating sites.
Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.
The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous. They also know the transactions are almost impossible to reverse.
wall of Shame. military scammers
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.
Woman Loses $K in Sweetheart Scam. Colorado woman is swindled by a fraudulent member on an internet dating site.
Be on the lookout for some of these operations that have fooled more than one person into giving money, personal information, and worse. Below in the following section you will find descriptions of scams that have been used on military members and their families in the past. But no matter what kind of con artist you encounter, there are some similar things you should watch out for that can alert you to a scam. Pay close attention anytime someone you do not know does any of the following online or in person:.
The Spanish Prisoner scam is a very old confidence trick that has been updated for the 21 st Century. The old-school version of this con trick was done face-to-face in many cases, but today the scam is run by people using social media.
It’s not true love if they ask for money
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.
New Jersey man scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating sites, prosecutors say. Anthony V. Coppola. Vineland Daily.
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. The next day she died by suicide. Authorities say Sarpong and his conspirators used various email accounts and Voice Over Internet protocol phone numbers to communicate with the victims and instruct them where to wire money. Authorities say the funds were then withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts and wired to conspirators in Ghana.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Sarpong was active on social media and “bragged about his wealth. Authorities say on March 2, , Sarpong posted a photograph of himself sitting in a car with a large stack of money up to his ear like a cellphone with a caption that read “WakeUp With k One Time. In a May 29, post, Sarpong posted a photograph of himself in front of a white Mercedes with the comment “BloodyMoney,” according to the complaint.
New Jersey man scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating sites, prosecutors say
Avery Haines Investigative Correspondent, W5. I played along to try to get an inside look at the shadowy world of internet scammers. My game of cat fish – and-mouse with the man calling himself Oliver would have been entertaining, except for the fact that what he does is downright evil. I really wanna know you better hope we can be really close. Am always focused on my job.
Lots of us have profiles on online dating sites, apps or social media to find People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past.
Military combat isn’t the only battle service members are fighting. Those were the findings of a recent data analysis by Comparitech. The consumer technology website analyzed scam data through the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Below are the fraud schemes that have led to the steepest losses for military personnel, according to Comparitech. In one notorious example, Colfax Capital Corp.
Impostor scams can run the gamut from fake employers to fraudsters impersonating authority figures. Romance schemes are the most commonly reported fraud , according to the U. In this case, predators may impersonate active-duty soldiers on dating sites and then sweet talk victims out of their cash. Predators have also lured service members into sharing compromising photos and videos, and then demanded money in exchange for not publicizing the embarrassing images.
Scammers have also impersonated employers in a bid to get veterans to purchase work equipment from a third party and then abscond with the money. Bad actors can steal service members’ identities and then use them to collect military benefits or file phony tax returns. In August, the Department of Justice charged five people in an identity theft and fraud scheme, wherein they allegedly used stolen identities to plunder millions of dollars in benefits from elderly and disabled veterans.
Online Dating Scammers Use Fake Military Profiles To Lure In Lovers
Weeks later, the U. Department of Justice DOJ filed charges against 80 members of an organized international criminal network composed primarily of Nigerians dedicated to romance fraud and several other cyber schemes. Even more recently, in early September, the DOJ announced the arrest of a New Jersey man for his involvement in a separate international criminal network that defrauded more than 30 victims in romance fraud schemes using fake online profiles of U.
The suspect allegedly carried out the scheme with help from co-conspirators in Ghana. Many of these types of fraudsters feature common characteristics that anyone looking for love on the internet should know.
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:. However, elderly people, women, and those who have lost a spouse are often targeted. Fraudsters have used dating sites to find and target victims for some time, but there is a new twist on romance scams that involves international criminal networks using dating sites to recruit money mules.
The victim is then asked to receive and send money from that account. These bank accounts, the FBI says, may be used to facilitate criminal activities. Even if the account is flagged and closed by the financial institution, the scammer may continue to scam the same victim by asking them to open a new account or may begin grooming a new victim. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep yourself—and your financial accounts—better protected when meeting new people online.
If you believe you have been a victim of a confidence or romance scam, the FBI recommends the following actions:.
Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance
According to the Better Business Bureau , romance scams are different than cat-fishing. While cat-fishing typically only involves deception, romance scam artists are intending to take money from a victim. In August, an Arizona man was sentenced to more than 15 years for creating several profiles on dating sites to convince women to give him thousands of dollars for fraudulent investments. Scam artists may try to make their victims believe they are in the military serving overseas and seeking a long-term relationship.
Brnovich said scam artists find ways to make their requests seem more plausible to victims.
Imagine if you randomly discovered an online dating profile of someone you know – if you were romantically involved with that person, the first fallout of the scam.
We’re going to be happy together. You’re the woman of my dreams. To make matters worse, she was recently laid off from her job as a financial analyst after 17 years with the same company. Her house is in foreclosure and she’s declared bankruptcy. That was when Ortiz-Rodeghero discovered a website called seniorpeoplemeet. Soon after, a man claiming to be an Army major general named Wayne Jackson contacted her. He sent her a picture of a dashing, dark-haired man in fatigues.
The man featured in the photo saw his image being used in online news reports and subsequently contacted ABCNews. The year military veteran, who retired last year, said his picture had been stolen from his former MySpace page. I don’t. Certainly not in this venue. In the scammer’s initial messages to Ortiz-Rodeghero, he reportedly said he was stationed in Iraq, but he claimed he was going to retire and come home to the United States. He also claimed his sister had told him about the website and “convinced” him to use it, she said.
Of course, that was impossible, she said he told her, because he was in Iraq.
Online Dating Scammers Pose as U.S. Military Personnel
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.
While many of us are trained to see the red flags for serial killers, catfishes and ghosts in that order , these are not the only villains lurking online for would-be matches. Scam artists are thinking of ways to woo you into sending them thousands—or millions of dollars. This is becoming such a problem in the U. In fact, romance scams continue to rise every year as more victims report financial losses.
Romance scams rely on meeting people online and wooing them with lofty promises and by saying all the right things. They prey on the basic human need for romantic connections. For this reason, romance scams can be some of the most difficult scams to rebound from.