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Love me don’t: the West African online scam using US soldiers
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The first hint that Air Force Tech. Sam Aldrich was an unwitting player in a Facebook military romance scam was a doctored image of him with a Filipina woman he had never met. Aldrich — a cybersecurity airman stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — discovered in March that a scammer had obtained photos posted before , when his Facebook profile was less secure. Online military romance scams are so commonplace that military officials have posted warnings to civilians not to fall for them.
CID receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims of people they met online who claimed to be soldiers, according to a warning on the CID website. Ken Scar, 48, a reserve Army staff sergeant, discovered that his photos were being used in the scams when he got a late-night call from a woman who had fallen for one of them in His mistake had opened the door to scammers in Pakistan and Nigeria to steal his photos. Last month, Scar made public a Facebook album of fake profiles and hopes it can help combat the scams.
Aldrich, meanwhile, contacted the woman he saw in the doctored images last month and discovered she had been in love with his doppelganger for a year. She fell in love with her online suitor. She created doctored pictures of the pair, drew his portrait and planned to return home to the Philippines with him after eight years of working overseas. She sent the money, but grew suspicious when he asked her to send more.
Finally, she discovered that she was the victim.
What Is a Romance Scam and Why Does It Work?
Ken Scar, a reserve Army staff sergeant, has found more than fake Facebook profiles that combine his photographs with various false identities. He was originally holding a copy of Stars and Stripes in this doctored image. Sam Aldrich was an unwitting player in a Facebook military romance scam was a doctored image of him with a Filipina woman he had never met. Aldrich — a cybersecurity airman stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — discovered in March that a scammer had obtained photos posted before , when his Facebook profile was less secure.
Online military romance scams are so commonplace that military officials have posted warnings to civilians not to fall for them. CID receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims of people they met online who claimed to be soldiers, according to a warning on the CID website.
A scam that recently caught our attention involves a scammer impersonating someone in the military, finding a sympathetic soul online, and.
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.
Online dating scams
The online dating romance scam is an Advance Fee Fraud, typically conducted by international criminal groups via online dating sites and social networking sites. This study examined the psychological characteristics of romance scam victims by comparing romance scam victims with those who had never been scammed by MMFs. Romance scam victims tend to be middle-aged, well-educated women. Moreover, they tend to be more impulsive scoring high on urgency and sensation seeking , less kind, more trustworthy, and have an addictive disposition.
It is argued here that these findings might be useful for those developing prevention programs and awareness campaigns.
It’s what experts call a “sweetheart scam. February 11, AM ET. Heard on She gets a photo of, you know, a good-looking soldier.
Two-and-a-half years after U. Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Thibodeau died in Afghanistan, his sister opened a Facebook message that plunged the family into a new kind of grief. Thibodeau, who grew up in Chesterland, died in May , when his Apache helicopter crashed during combat. He was just His wife was five weeks pregnant.
Nikki Vodicka said she was still mourning her brother when, last December, she received a message from a friend who warned that someone was using Thibodeau’s name and image on a dating site. Why take that? Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the U. Army Criminal Investigation Command, said he fields hundreds of complaints a year from victims who lost money to romance scams that used the photos or names of living or deceased soldiers.
In a typical romance scam, a con artist meets victims through Facebook, dating or chat sites by posing as a soldier or Marine. The scammer pursues a whirlwind romance and then, when victims are convinced they’ve found love, cons them into wiring money. Some victims are snared by counterfeit check scams. It confers instant credibility and gives them a good excuse for being unable to meet in person and provides a plausible explanation for why they want money wired overseas.
The military most often hears about the scams from victims who contact the military to complain their boyfriend absconded with their money.
Military romance fraud one of top 10 BBB scams of 2017
These kinds of scams involve scammers exploiting a victim’s emotions to gain trust and make off with their money. The warning came out on the same day developers for online dating apps said they noticed an increase in users. The day was called “Dating Sunday.
Updated Jan 12, ; Posted Mar 29, Two-and-a-half years after U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Thibodeau died In a typical romance scam, a con artist meets victims through Facebook, dating or chat.
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.
Romance scams: don’t fall for one
Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first. Retired U. Army Col. The year-old husband and father spent half his life in the military. They use his photos to pose as soldiers on Facebook and dating sites, where they trick women into surrendering thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards in the name of love.
She logged into her online-dating account and up popped an instant message. and robbed them of an estimated $82 million in the last half of alone. Military Romance Scams has a useful Facebook page where you.
Some Americans are discovering the high cost of love. That’s because some online flings are pumping them for money — sometimes tens of thousand of dollars. It’s what experts call a “sweetheart scam. Now to matters of personal finance as we get close to Valentine’s Day, which is Friday. And don’t say I didn’t remind you. Romance is in the air, and you might be looking for ways to touch your beloved’s heart. But some scammers are thinking about ways to touch your wallet. This according to consumer columnist Sheryl Harris, who tells us that many hard-working Americans who think that they are participating in online relationships are actually being targeted for scams.
And she’s going to tell us more about that. Sheryl Harris writes for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. She’s our money coach today, and she’s with us now. Welcome back, Sheryl. Thanks for joining us.
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Canadians (mostly women) seeking romance from strangers pretending to be members of the military or oil rig engineers on Facebook lost $
AARP Rewards is here to make your next steps easy, rewarding and fun! Learn more. 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. The con works something like this: You post a dating profile and up pops a promising match — good-looking, smart, funny and personable. This potential mate claims to live in another part of the country or to be abroad for business or a military deployment.
But he or she seems smitten and eager to get to know you better, and suggests you move your relationship to a private channel like email or a chat app. Over weeks or months you feel yourself growing closer. You make plans to meet in person, but for your new love something always comes up. Then you get an urgent request. He or she will promise to pay it back, but that will never happen.
Phony suitors also seek out targets on social media, and they are increasingly active. The Federal Trade Commission FTC received more than 25, reports about romance scams in , a nearly threefold increase since
Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly.
There were 2, reports of dating scams, with reported losses of £27,, There were 3, reports, and losses of £32,, There.
Sadly, not everyone has the holiday spirit. A scam that recently caught our attention involves a scammer impersonating someone in the military, finding a sympathetic soul online, and asking for cash under false pretenses. Romance scams are the most commonly reported scams, according to the U. An obvious warning sign is when someone who claims to be a U. Among those services are emergency communications , for members of the military who are currently serving on active duty. Non-disclosure of this information is another red flag that you may not be dealing with a legitimate service member.
You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Suspicions should arise if: There are requests for money If social media is the only means of communications If the.
6 red flags for online dating scams
If you thought online dating websites are on the rise, than you would be right. However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honorable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering.
Other scam artists make their fake profiles look as appealing as possible and wait from victims to reach out and begin the conversation. Once a scammer has you hooked, the possibilities are limitless, but here are a few of the most common variations:.
If you run a dating site, beware of scammers too! Oct Nov due to romance fraudsters and 64% of these scams originated on dating sites! and often claiming to be either military, businessmen that travel often.
ERIN E. She logged into her online-dating account and up popped an instant message. Could she help him? He was Nigerian. Most dating fraudsters operate from Russia, Malaysia, and Africa. Many dating sites take little legal responsibility for policing scammers.