Online Military Boyfriend or Romance Scammer?


Every week SpouseBuzz gets email from women who think they have met Mr. Right.  Mr. Right is in the U.S. military.  Mr. Right is stationed in Afghanistan. Mr. Right needs money.  Sheryldine recently wrote:

He was on leave to come over to Australia to organise our wedding. The plane he was on was diverted to Malaysia. When I received an email from a doctor needing information on my husband and his fellow soldier that was also coming to my country to marry a friend of mine. We were planning a double wedding. But since the car accident we have little information. We are stressed to the max not knowing how they are doing. Please, please help.
How do you tell Sheryldine and her friend that they are not in relationships with U.S. servicemen?  Instead they are being scammed by someone like the mother daughter pair recently arrested in Denver.   Tracy and Karen Vasseur allegedly scammed 374 victims out of more than $1 million by claiming to be military members stationed overseas.

Although the online scammer  is notoriously skilled at creating an online relationship, there are some ways to tell whether the service member you “know” is a scammer.

1. He asks you for money.  Really, you do not need to read any further than that.  If your online love asks you for money to buy a laptop so he can write to you more, or an international phones so he can talk to you more, or an airline ticket so you can be together, never click on his message again.  If service members need to borrow money, they will ask their buddy or their mom or NFCU—not the woman they want to impress.

2. His commanding officer asks you for money.  If you get a request for money to pay for leave papers from the command, it’s a scam.  No one can buy leave.  Besides, commanding officers do not write internet girlfriends.  Ever.  Unless they are, in fact, scammers.

3. Claims to be a Navy SEAL, an Army Ranger or Delta Force.  These three military jobs are often claimed falsely—not just by internet scammers, but by everyday Americans.

4. Deploys for any period over one year.  Although some deployments can last as long as 15 months, no one deploys for two or three years. No one.

5.  Address provided is not an APO or FRO address.  Military members overseas get their mail through their unit's address that features APO or FPO where the city and state usually are in a normal address.  If they claim to be deployed and offer an address that is not an APO or FPO, they are not in the military.

6. Claims he cannot receive letters in the mail.  Service members can and do receive mail--sometimes it is sporadic, but they do get it.  If your online love asks you to send a money to a third party address, don't do it.  And reread #1.

7. Asks you to marry him within weeks of your online relationship.  You might wish that you had an instant bond and he might tell you that you are made for each other, but real love doesn’t happen like that.  Red flag!

8. Sends you a marriage certificate and swears the two of you are married and that you should start planning the ceremony.

9. Offers to transfer into the military of your country so he can be with you and his kids.  Not gonna happen.

10. You suspect he is a scammer.  Your gut tells you that this person is too good to be true and that he should not be asking you for money.  Follow your gut.  Stand up from your keyboard.  Call someone who can help you figure out why you want to believe this obvious scammer is telling you the truth.

If you do think you are being scammed by someone posing as a military member, please report it.  Our customer service representatives at Military.com suggest that if this is being done by email,  report it to your local law enforcement office as well as register an Internet Crime Complaint form, found on the FBI's website at: http://www.ic3.gov/ You can also contact The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC). This is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IFCC's mission is to address fraud committed over the Internet. For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/  

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