Falling for an Online Romance Scheme

Avoiding online scammers

Dear Q&B --

A military man I've been in a relationship online says he needs me to send him money so he can come home from his deployment. He is a sergeant deployed to Syria, and he says he can't come visit me without paying to come home. His Army base is in Detroit.

I already sent him money so that we could continue to talk since military men aren't allowed to be in touch with home without paying for it. Why does the military make him pay to come home?

Sincerely, Military Girlfriend

Dear Girlfriend --

Bad news, Girlfriend. You are probably not a military girlfriend at all.

It sounds like you've fallen victim to a classic scam artist -- men who prey on gullible women who are hoping for love. These scammers say they are in the military and deployed, and maybe they even show you a picture of someone in uniform.

But that picture is probably stolen from a real service member. And unless your guys is in the National Guard or Reserves, there is no Army post in Detroit.

But your benefits question was "why does the military make him pay to come home?" The answer is: It doesn't.

The U.S. military does not require service members to pay their own way to or from a deployment. And while they may need to buy a calling card or pay for an internet connection, and may have to wait in line to use a phone, they do not have to pay for the privilege of calling home. Both of those claims are classic scam artist moves.

Unfortunately, Girlfriend, you've been taken for a ride by a scam artist. Next time, follow the scam-protection rule of thumb that's as old as the internet: Never, ever send money to an online love interest.

Sincerely, Team Q&B

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