Military Romance Scams – Are you dating or conversing with someone who claims to be a member of the military? Have they requested money or documents from you? You may be looking for true love, but you’re probably a victim of one of the thousands of military scams that take place every day. According to US military officials, online daters should exercise caution when communicating with someone claiming to be a US military member serving in Syria, Afghanistan, or elsewhere.
Hundreds of questions or allegations are received each month by officials and websites such as Military.com from victims who claim they became involved in an online relationship with someone claiming to be in the United States military but began demanding money for various false service-related needs such as transportation costs, communication fees, or marriage, processing, or medical fees.
Victims of online military scams frequently believe they are doing a good deed by assisting a service member. Instead, they have given their money to a con artist, losing thousands of dollars with little chance of recovering it.
To deal with this growing epidemic, the United States has formed several task forces. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of these scams are frequently located outside of the United States, using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through multiple locations around the world, and using pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes.
What to Look For
Scammers use a wide range of words and phrases to entice unsuspecting men and women into relationships. Some examples are as follows: They describe themselves as being on a “peacekeeping” mission.
They claim to be looking for a trustworthy woman. They mention the death of their parents, wives, or husbands. They claim to have a nanny or other guardian caring for their child or children. They almost immediately declare their love for each other. Almost immediately, they refer to you as “my love,” “my darling,” or any other affectionate term. They express their eagerness to be with you. For security reasons, they say they can’t talk on the phone or via webcam. They claim to be sending you something (money or jewelry) via a diplomat. They claim to be in the United States military, but their English and grammar are not those born and raised in the country.
Con artists frequently use similar stories to persuade men and women to have a genuine need. Military.com is commonly asked about these claims. The following are some common responses to those questions:
Military personnel and their dependents are not charged a fee to go on leave.
No one is obligated to request leave on a military member’s behalf.
You will not receive correspondence from a general officer on behalf of military personnel planning to leave.
A general officer will not use an internet dating site.
Members of the military are not charged money or taxes to secure communications or leave.
Military personnel does not require permission to marry.
Members of the military are not required to pay for early retirement.
All military personnel and their immediate family members (spouse and children) have medical insurance covering their medical costs when they are treated at health care facilities around the world. Medical bills are not to be paid by family or friends.
Privately owned vehicles are not transported by military aircraft.
Military financial offices are not used to assist military personnel in the purchase or sale of any item.
Military personnel stationed in combat zones are not required to solicit funds from the general public to feed or house their troops.
Military personnel on deployment do not come across hefty sums of money and do not require your assistance in getting that money out of the country.
How to Avoid Them
By following a few simple rules, you can avoid being duped by a military con artist.
Never send money to anyone.
If you are asked for money via Western Union for transportation costs, communication fees, or marriage processing and medical fees, be highly suspicious.
Do your homework.
If you do decide to start an online relationship with someone, do some research on them. Consult someone who knows about what they’re saying, such as a current or former service member.
Use the phone to communicate.
If you never speak with the person on the phone or are told you can’t write or receive letters in the mail, be suspicious. APO or FPO addresses are frequently used by servicemen and women stationed overseas. Whether they have access to the internet or not, service members always appreciate receiving a letter in the mail.
Check the facts.
Many of the criticisms leveled at the military, such as the alleged lack of support and services provided to troops stationed abroad, are unfounded. Examine the facts.
Don’t enlist the help of a third party.
If you’re asked to send money or ship property to a third party or company, be wary. Frequently, the company exists but is unaware of or unconcerned about the scam.
Keep an eye out for African countries.
If someone you’re corresponding with asks you to send something to an African country, be wary. Although there are some American troops stationed there, they are few and far between. Someone claiming to be in a location where our troops are few is suspect. Nigeria is the source of many scams.
Keep an eye out for grammar mistakes.
Keep an eye out for standard spelling, grammatical, and language mistakes in emails.
Always be wary of someone you’ve never met who professes love at breakneck speed.
How to Get Help
How can you get help if you’ve been a victim of a military scam or believe you’ve found a romance scammer impersonating a military member?
Unfortunately, if you give money to a scammer, you’re unlikely to get it back because scammers are frequently located overseas and are difficult to track.
You can, however, file a complaint about it.
You can report the theft on the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership) website.
You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft. Your report aids law enforcement agencies all over the country in their investigations. It can be reported online or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT.
Finally, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report Nigerian scams to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.