Is That Really An Army Sergeant Falling In Love With You?
LABELLE, FL. -- Many women using social media looking for love are being scammed by men posing as military servicemen, preying on women through romantic email and text messages, eventually conning them for money or gifts.
A growing phenomena in the military romance scam are criminals from Nigeria and other African countries stealing identities and photos of U.S. military personnel, then finding women on popular dating and social sites where woman are looking for romance, and convincing them quickly they are in love.
Usually within a few days, the targeted woman may believe she has fallen in love with the man, or the more cautious target has spotted a lot of red flags as they learn the typical scammer says he's in Afghanistan, serving in the Army with a very sad story of his life and family, wives and children who have died recently in tragic circumstances, and has excuses for why he can't communicate other than by a non-military email address or social media chat app, and doesn't respond and evades questions posed about his background.
Scammers typically pretend to be an army officer or non-commissioned officer, usually a "Sergeant" stationed in a far away place like Afghanistan/ Within a few days they remarkably talk their way into the hearts of the targeted woman.
The man tells the woman a sad story of his life, that he's an orphan, his wife died, his child is estranged, he's in a war zone. In many cases the scammer tells women he's stationed in Afghanistan and will be coming back to the U.S. soon and convince the target they'll be together and marry. He'll produce photographs that upon close examination don't match how he describes himself. They're older or younger looking than claimed.
But, the scammers are clever enough to say just what the women want to hear in text messages and email, gaining their trust for an eventual trick request that ends up sending money or cell phones to the scammer or a confederate.
Red flags arise when the scammer says he can't give out his military email address because of some secrecy rules and has the women use a commercial email address or a social chat service, most usually Yahoo Messenger. This is a dead giveaway though, the military gives every servicemen a government provided email address that should always appear for example as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scammers will not give out military mailing address as well because they wouldn't be able to actually receive anything through them since they're faking a serviceman's identity. Military mail going overseas will always be to a military postal system using an APO or FPO address. Scammers will instead get women to send packages to an address in Africa instead of a military APO or FPO, explaining it's to a friend or an official's address.
Scammers will use phones that don't have numbers coming from the place they claim to be. If you see a California area code and he's claiming to be in Afghanistan, it's a scam.
More red flags are photographs that don't match the scammers claimed age, and military uniform photos with insignia that don't match the claimed rank. A "Sergeant" with a Corporal stripes for example. Flags may pop up when the scammer says he's been in the Army for 30 years and retiring soon, but can't provide you with any proof, or not know the military designation of his supposed rank, i.e. Major Sergeant, etc and it's corresponding pay grade,
And a very common red flag is a much younger man targeting an older woman. The greater the difference in ages, the greater the chance it's a scam to obtain money with the promise of love and marriage.
What to do? If something seems to good to be true or improbable, it probably is. Stop corresponding with the scammer and don't give him any clues why you believe he's scamming you. He'll come up with yet another improbable explanation for everything.