Military members’ social media photos are being used in efforts to scam Americans out of money, according to a report released on Tuesday from Vietnam Veterans of America. The almost page report notes a range of attempts to target servicemembers online, including foreign efforts to promote the “Vets for Trump” Facebook page, Russian hackers making terroristic threats against military families and use of pictures of soldiers in so-called “romance scams,” in which scammers take on false identities and then seek to swindle their victims out of money. The report said that romance scams, which the Federal Trade Commission said accounted for more lost money in than any other type of consumer fraud, often target “older, lonely Americans who are relatively new to social media and the internet. The profiles of military personnel are among those being used in the deceptions. Staff Sergeant Sherri Vlastuin is an Instagram influencer with over 36, followers. The Vietnam Veterans of America report said that “scores” of social media accounts have stolen Vlastuin ‘s identity. Stars and Stripes reported that some individuals who have been deceived by accounts imitating Vlastuin ‘s subsequently contact the staff sergeant and expect repayment. The report offers additional evidence about the prevalence and pervasiveness of such romance scams, adding to past reporting on the topic.
How to spot online romance scams
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.
U.S. Army CID Warns Against Romance Scams (PDF /2 pages). If you believe that you have been the victim of Internet fraud, please follow the advice presented.
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.
Romance scammers are fleecing vulnerable Australian women out of millions of dollars by pretending to be US soldiers or heartbroken widowers looking for love. Romance scammers are pretending to be US military personnel to appeal to Australian victims. Experts say people are attracted to those in uniform like those above stock photo , plus it also gives the scammer an excuse to contact their victim at odd hours.
CSCRC Senior Research Fellow Cassandra Cross military profiles were popular with scammers who use psychologically abusive tactics including gaslighting and isolation to target vulnerable older singles. Dr Cross said the scammers can then contact people at any time of the day or night because they ‘work in the military’. The military profile works on victims.
I. INTRODUCTION. The online romance scam is one the most prevalent forms of “military scam” profiles, purporting to be members of the US military stationed.
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. Set boundaries and recognize red flags. He reports every fake account he sees on Facebook, but new ones emerge faster than he can wipe them out.
Denny is one of several soldiers whose photos have been used to create fake dating profiles amid a global surge in military romance fraud. He gets tired of chasing down fake profiles. Last year, for instance, a handful of fake Facebook accounts were created using images of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the Canadian military reservist killed in a terror attack on Parliament Hill in The photos sparked widespread outrage in Canada, prompting Facebook to step in and delete the accounts.
‘It’s been hell’: How fraudsters use handsome soldiers to prey on lonely hearts over the holidays
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.
Army CID is warning anyone who is involved in online dating to proceed with caution when corresponding with persons claiming to be U.S.
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.
After a few weeks, the man told her he needed some money to help his daughter go on a school trip. The money requests didn’t stop there.
Meet the sailor who’s become the new face of military romance scams
Relationships can bring joy and love, but online dating and sweetheart scams can cause problems for romance seekers. Sweetheart scammers are con artists who prey on lonely people by pretending to fall in love with them in order to win their trust and steal their money. While sweetheart scams can happen face-to-face, they often take place online.
Romance scams, where fraudsters target deployed military personnel or money, are the most commonly reported complaints, according to the U.S. Army. according to data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
A warning that comes from the military. Photos of those serving are being hijacked off social media to fool victims of romance scams. A widow several years Ann thought she found love again only to have both her heart and bank account broken. Ann never met the dashing captain or so he claimed but she surrendered to his online charm. I mean he sent such beautiful letters to me.
Like paying fees so he could go on leave and finally meet her. The pretend Army Captain even promised to bring home gold if she paid customs fees and taxes. The gold never came and Ann realized she had been scammed for several months. The Army has posted a warning that romance scams have increased using photos grabbed off social media. This case is a reminder for relatives to watch social media contacts with their elderly loved ones.
These scammers have set their sights on members of the military
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.
The safety of our customers is of the utmost importance to us. LibertyX constantly Online dating and marriages are some of the most common scams on the internet. A popular scam is to create the illusion that the scammer is in the military.
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.
Estimated reading time is 6 minutes. Do you have suspicions that a friend or family member is involved in a romance scam? Do you ever wonder why people fall for romance scams? While this figure may seem high, this is just what gets reported; many victims never make a report due to fear or embarrassment. She found she could join groups and play games via the social media channel.
Online romance scams are growing at a dizzying pace, raking in millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims across the United States. city — they claim to be deployed in the military, working at an oil rig overseas or a doctor.
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.