Romance scams are a thing of the past right? Surely everyone knows about these by now and no one intelligent could ever be a victim, right? Wrong. The games and rules have changed. More people are connecting online than ever before, and not everyone is an experienced internet users. Senior citizens and new internet users are often the targets, although even the most seasoned and experienced and skeptical internet user can be a victim of military scams online.
Military personnel are generally people we can trust. They fight for our country and they stand for freedom. They put their lives in harm’s way for their country. They are trusted individuals who are moral and honest. Criminals understand this widely held perception, and they are cashing in on it. If you ever meet someone from the military on an online dating site or social networking site, extra caution is advised due to the growing fraud risk. Be safe and skeptical online.
International investigators have seen an alarming rising rate of scammers impersonating as members of the U.S. military claiming to be in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. In many cases, a real identity of a real solider will be used, making it very difficult for average citizens to verify. Often determine what is real and what is a fraud requires the skills and training of a reputable private investigator. Criminals and online scammer can be so convincing in their dating scams that investigators report even lawyers and members of law enforcement being victims.
Con artists use photographs and profiles of members in the military to convince their victims easily. Public records are often used to gather real identities, so when the victim tries to verify the person’s story, everything appears to check out. Once trust is established, complications soon follow, and the goal of the criminal will be to either steal your identity or money or both.
According to a report provided by the U.S. Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) warning citizens about military scams, dating scams have cost U.S. citizens over $2 billion USD in 2011. Military members whose identities have been stolen, report no other harm to themselves other than having their background and photos used to perpetrate these internet crimes to citizens around the world. The primary victims are women in developed nations, although anyone can be a victim.
The CIC, FBI and professional background international investigators advise extreme caution when being approached by people you don’t know over the internet. In most cases there are red flags and it’s important to listen to your instinct. In other cases, it will be necessary to contact a reputable investigation company to conduct a dating background check to be safe.
All the best,
© 2012 S. Birch