Can’t resist a man in uniform? 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. In fact, hundreds of allegations pour in every month.
The scammer will claim to be deployed overseas and lure the mark into a romantic entanglement. Some of these scams even go so far as to plan weddings. Inevitably, the overseas lover will ask for money. They often claim that they need to pay to use the internet, communicate with family, request leave, get married, or pay for food, housing, transportation, or medical expenses.
The US military warns to not send or receive money from an online lover claiming to be a military service person deployed overseas, especially if they ask you to go through a third party, use a gift card or prepaid debit card, or wire the money through MoneyGram or Western Union.
The facts are that soldiers are not charged money to use the internet or communicate with family. They do not need to pay to go on leave or get married or to retire early. Military personnel do not have to pay for food, housing, or transportation while deployed abroad, and they have medical insurance that covers their medical expenses worldwide. If you are asked for money for any of these things, it is a scam.
If a soldier deployed overseas asks you to help them get money they have found out of the country, it’s a scam. If they do not give you a mailing address or resist being sent anything by mail, this is generally indication of a scam because deployed military personnel are eager to receive mail.
If you come across a dating site or app profile of someone claiming to be a general officer, it is a scam. According to the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, general officers are not on dating sites.
It’s not just military love scams that are on the rise. The FBI reported that between 2012 and 2016 reports of online dating scams has tripled, and they estimate that only 15% is reported.
Successful relationships that begin online are common – even when they start off long-distance – but so are dating site scams. If you or someone you know is entering into an online relationship, here are some red flags to keep in mind:
- Beware of spelling, grammar, and language errors.
- If the ONLY communication is online, there is a problem. This person should be willing to talk on the phone or via webcam, and they should be able to receive mail. If they insist on only communicating via the dating site or app, chat or messenger, or by email, there is a problem.
- When someone asks their new love interest for money, this is a big red flag whether it’s a scammer or not.
- Beware of those who claim to rush into love, or who claim to fall in love without ever having met. This is a big red flag regardless of whether the person is a con artist or not.
It’s not out of line to investigate someone before pursuing a romantic relationship online, especially if they claim to live abroad. If you or someone you know is entering an online relationship with someone – either close by or far away – it’s a safety precaution to know who you are dealing with. It’s easy to hide behind a fake identity online. Scammers will even use real people – their personal identifying information and photos – to create fake profiles. Contact me at Mignolet@Bellsouth.net for a thorough background check. Better safe than swindled, or worse.
For more than three decades Jean Mignolet has served in law enforcement and private investigation, managing all aspects of general investigative business. She specializes in in-depth background investigations, and is the top choice of attorneys, corporations, small business owners and individuals who require all types of investigative services.
Contact us at: Mignolet@Bellsouth.net
or call us at: 954-523-8737 or 954-336-9363