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. Oliver says he is a sergeant with the U. I believe when we start talking on the phone that will be so much better. Sadly, Oliver says, Kabul, Afghanistan has wonky internet, and because of the nature of his work, a video call is strictly forbidden. Oliver begs me to send money so we can use the satellite phone. The cost?
Online dating scam: fraudsters pose as American soldiers
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.
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. CID said there have been hundreds of claims each month from people who said they’ve been scammed on legitimate dating apps and social media sites.
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.
How to Spot the Signs of a Romance Scammer and Report Online Dating Scams
Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money.
Military Romance Scams. 48K likes. This page was created to warn facebook users about military romance scams and how the identities of our honorably.
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.
For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market. Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes. Now Facebook and Instagram provide fraudsters with greater reach and resources, enabling them to more convincingly impersonate others and more precisely target victims.
‘It’s been hell’: How fraudsters use handsome soldiers to prey on lonely hearts over the holidays
Two members of the US Army Reserve scammed senior citizens, away, a year-old widow in North Carolina began using an online dating.
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.
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.
Women in Kidderminster are being warned about an online dating scam ticket, for medical bills or even to set up a telephone link near a military base abroad.
These are external links and will open in a new window. Jean – not her real name – was soon contacted by a man named “Alex”, who claimed to be a soldier in the US Army. He said his wife had left him, that he was raising his teenage son alone, and that he was soon leaving for a tour of Afghanistan. He said he was going to come and see me.
He said all the right things. Weeks into their blossoming friendship, Alex claimed his son had changed the PIN for his cash card and he was in financial dire straits. Jean offered to help and sent Alex some money. But it wasn’t a one-off favour. Speaking to the 5 live Investigates programme, Jean recalled how Alex’s requests for money began to snowball: “It went on and on. I kept helping him and his son with various things – domestic bills, school fees and things like that.
Report a Scam
Military personnel and their families are attractive targets for scam artists and identity thieves. These criminals target service members for their steady paychecks and take advantage of their non-standard work schedules, length absences from home, frequent relocations, and duty assignments to remote locations. They also prey on veterans and their families, taking advantage of their patriotism as well as their hard-earned government benefits. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau receives thousands of complaints each year from military consumers that deal with debt collection issues.
The most common type of debt collection scam involves continued attempts to collect a debt not owed. Other types include false statements or misrepresentations about a debt, as well as debt collectors threating illegal action.
New Jersey man scammed $2M from women by posing as a soldier on dating in an elaborate online dating scheme where he and conspirators acted as United States military members attempting to ship gold bars home.
Two Army reservists have been accused of coordinating a fraud scheme involving business email compromises and romance scams against elderly women, according to a federal complaint in the Southern District Court of New York. Joseph I. Asan Jr. Ogozy, both of whom enlisted in the Army Reserve in February , were arrested Oct.
An FBI agent said in the complaint that Asan and Ogozy defrauded victims and laundered their proceeds through bank accounts they had opened in the names of fake businesses. The publication Quartz noted that only Asan has been indicted and some of the court records indicate Ogozy might be cooperating with investigators.
How I catfished my catfisher: a W5 investigation into romance scams
She wants to use the social media network to inspire young women, but cybercriminals using her photos to engage in “romance scams” have made Vlastuin consider deleting her online presence. Sherri Vlastuin, Instagram popularity came quickly — and at a price. Vlastuin, 26, has used the social media network since to document her life as an Army combat medic at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, her home state.
One post — a selfie after her graduation from Air Assault School two years ago — suddenly elevated her page. Romance scams are part of a new page report released Tuesday by Vietnam Veterans of America, which has spent the past two years on a study of online trolls and their tendency to target veterans and servicemembers.
A W5 investigation into romance scams airs Saturday at 7pm on CTV. I played along to try to get an inside look at the shadowy world of internet scammers. Oliver says he is a sergeant with the U.S. military, on a top secret.
The top frauds reported last year were from people pretending to be from the government, a well-known business, or a romantic interest in need of help. A large portion of imposter scams are those pretending to be from the U. A few of the more common ones are:. IRS Scams : These scammers send a notice through email, mail, or phone calls in an attempt to gain access to your tax or banking information to steal your identity and money.
How to spot online romance scams
Since the large adoption of the internet, the online dating industry moved to set a new standard in the way we find our soulmates. And it worked. According to a study from the University of Chicago, compared to marriages between couples who meet in real life, marriages between couples whose relationships are formed through an online dating site are more likely to last. Unfortunately, with the rise of online dating services came the birth of romance scams.
Romance scams target wealthy women, sometimes widows, who are looking for a new relationship and men who are looking for extra-marital relationships. In most cases, the goal is to defraud the victim out of money.
scammers use is to impersonate American military these websites by organized Internet crime gangs.
Do you have questions about your vision health? 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.