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Signs of a Military Scam

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I met a soldier online just over five months ago. Although it is just a friendship, not a romance, I am now very concerned.

Initially, he did ask me for funding for various things, but I am not in a position to send money. He graciously accepted that.

However, now I am in a predicament. He asked if the "DOF" could transfer some of his funds into my account on his behalf and then I would wire the money via Western Union to a supposed military something here in the USA for him to collect.

Last night, two separate transfers did come into my account for large amounts. My banking institute did place a hold on the funds for at least 14 days to verify that the funding is in fact available for use.

How am I to verify that these funds are that of the soldier I am in communication with? What is the DOF? Is this legal?

I am now terrified that something isn't legitimate, and what will happen if I draw these funds to send Western Union?

The DOF also wanted my online log-in information and my security question answers in order to see my account and that the funds were deposited.

Now they have me very vulnerable. I did change the password and security questions immediately, and nearly immediately the soldier contacted me and asked me why I changed them. What am I to do? Have you heard of a similar scam being done?

Sincerely,
Seriously Worried

Dear Worried,

You are right to be very worried. These people are scammers, and I am afraid for you. You are potentially in some serious trouble.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command receives hundreds of reports every month from people just like you who have been scammed by someone posing as an American service member.

Some of the details of your letter are exactly the markers that the Army warns people to watch for:

1.Requests for money for anything -- including a marriage license, travel expenses, cell phone costs, medical fees.

2. Use of Western Union.

3.No APO or FPO address.

4.Misspellings or use of incorrect or incomplete acronyms.

So please get in contact with your bank immediately and ask them to help you make the necessary changes.

Also, you need to report this event to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If you lose money due to this transaction, report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations. You can contact them online, by phone at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY 1-866-653-4261, or by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580.

Most of all, do not have any more contact with this person. Please keep in touch and let me know what happens.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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