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. The U. In addition to being in the Navy, he co-hosts a popular military podcast called The Smoke Pit and maintains a sizable public presence for it online. Some of his social media accounts are public, allowing people access to plenty of photos of him. Many lead back to Nigeria.
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Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers. If you do find a false profile, contact that social media platform and report it.
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. Also, any official military or government emails will end in.
Do you have questions about your vision health? A Pew Research Center study revealed that nearly 60 percent of U. But seeking romantic bliss online can have a major downside: Cyberspace is full of scammers eager to take advantage of lonely hearts.
Two Army reservists have been accused of coordinating a fraud scheme involving business email compromises and romance scams against.
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.
Number of cases rose from to in only two years. Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Communications are exchanged between the scammer and victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have connected with the victim enough to ask for money.
These requests may be for gas money, bus or airplane tickets to visit the victim, medical or education expenses. There is usually the promise the scammer will one day join the victim in the victim’s home. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed or stops sending money. Criminal networks defraud lonely people around the world with false promises of love and romance. Some romance scammers seek out a victim with an obscure fetish and will make the victim think that if they pay for the scammer’s plane ticket, they will get to live out their sexual fantasy with the scammer.
Other scammers like to entice victims to perform sexual acts on webcam. They then record their victims, play back the recorded images or videos to them, and then extort money to prevent them from sending the recordings to friends, family, or employers, often discovered via social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
You can help your service member guard against military scams by helping Your friend or family member says they have “met someone” on a dating app.
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. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery.
The U. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes. See examples of fake documents used by scammers. There are a variety of words and phrases used by scammers to hook unsuspecting men and women into relationships. Here are some examples:. Scammers tend to use similar stories to convince men and women that they have a legitimate need.
Here are common answers to those questions:. Never send money. Be extremely suspicious if you are asked for money for transportation costs, communication fees or marriage processing and medical fees via Western Union.
Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance
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. It’s a problem that’s affecting all branches of service — not just the Army.
Scam Alert Military experts are constantly warning service members about social media scams that can affect them and their families.
We Offer Immediate, 24/7 Assistance From Our Team Of Investigators. Call Us Right Now.
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. Avoid emails that insist you act now. Remember, there are always people looking to take advantage of a crisis to harm others — be vigilant. These scams target military personnel looking for housing near a base. Scammers pretend to be real estate agents and post fake ads for rental properties on websites, sometimes promising military discounts and other incentives.
They try to get service members to send them money for fees and deposits upfront — and the victim ends up with no money and no place to live. If someone insists on receiving money or other payments before a property has been seen, it is probably a rental scam.
How can I tell if I’m the victim of a military romance scam?
The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. At years-old, Exposto had fallen for a widowed special forces soldier doing his bit for his country. They have never met, which was easily explained — he was deployed in Afghanistan. Exposto recently walked free after facing a death sentence in Malaysia for attempting to smuggle a kilogram of ice five years ago.
Since she was caught, she has maintained she was a victim of a romance scam. Read more: From catfish to romance fraud, how to avoid getting caught in any online scam.
Confidence/romance fraud occurs when an actor deceives a victim into believing U.S. military members deployed overseas, or U.S. business owners alleging they were victims of confidence/romance fraud and reporting losses fraud was the seventh most commonly reported scam to the IC3 based on.
Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online scams often think they are doing a good deed dating helping a military member. Instead, they heart given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery. The U. Unfortunately, the military committing scams scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around anatomy world and not pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes.
Report Scams and Frauds
On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few. Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts.
Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, If you think you have been scammed, report it to the website, app, or social.
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Report a Scam
On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams, celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as U. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few.
far away — maybe for business, or because he’s in the military. Then he asks for Scammers, both male and female, make fake dating profiles, sometimes using photos of Report Scams. If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.
They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging.
They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature.
Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency. For example, they may claim to have a severely ill family member who requires immediate medical attention such as an expensive operation, or they may claim financial hardship due to an unfortunate run of bad luck such as a failed business or mugging in the street.