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Internet cons try to co-opt patriotism

Submitted by on Sunday, 28 March 2010 2 Comments

The next “soldiers” you meet could be close relatives of  your Nigerian uncle – if you’re not careful, that is.

It seems that the latest stunt from the set that’s sent us emails from Australian barristers and congratulated us on our big lottery winnings is to imitate lonely soldiers.

They’re not after your love, though. They want your money.

According to a story from The Army Times, swindlers on various online dating sites are imitating deployed American soldiers and conning victims into sending thousands of dollars.

The profiles on the dating sites look solid, the story says, because the cons will go as far as to use pictures and names of actual American soldiers.

From there on, though, the stories fall apart with only a little examination.

The “soldiers” will claim that their units do not have telephones or that that they are not allowed to make calls, which is why they must communicate only by email. Some will say they don’t have addresses, which is why money must be electronically transferred.

Often, they’ll say they need money to “help keep the Army Internet running,” the story said. I think most of us already make that donation every year – it’s called taxes. Of course, Dad’s currently making an additional $70 a month contribution, but that’s for his Internet service. The whole Defense Department isn’t depending on his payments. At least, I don’t think it is.

It’s understandable why some might miss other obvious gaps in these stories.

People who’ve never known anyone stationed overseas with the military might not be aware that all personnel have either APO or FPO mailing addresses.

People whose friends or loved ones haven’t been deployed during the current wars might not know that phone access is pretty decent. Soldiers likely won’t be able to call every day – and depending on their jobs, they could be limited to once a week or so at times. But between call centers and the Iraqi or Afghani cell phones that many people purchase, where there’s a will, there’s a way if he’s that into you.

And then there’s always Skype. It would be interesting to see someone who’s using email and is active in an online dating site try to explain why he can’t make an Internet call.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Christina said:

    Who is the real Sgt Brian Roberts? His photos are being used in an online dating internet scam involving cell phones. Hope the ssoldiers whose pics are used do not get into trouble unless they willingly supplied the pics. Had my heart just about given away but fortunately common sense prevailed. The spelling and grammar is a often a giveaway.

  • Debra said:

    I’m so sorry you went through what you went through, Christina, but at least you caught on in time.

    I’m not getting the impression that soldiers are willingly supplying the pictures. I think they’re being lifted from other publicly accessible sites. And you’re SO right about spelling and grammar being major tip-offs on most scams.