A message request from a woman I don't know popped up in my Facebook app.
"I don't know if it's your husband or someone using his identity but this is our conversation on Tinder and I looked into him and found out it's all lies very disgusted."
And then pictures. Screen shot after screen shot of my husband's face, a fake first name and words of love to another woman.
"Am really falling in love with you."
"This is not my first time on this site."
My stomach churned. I don't want to be the next person to write a sad letter to Ms. Vicki. Did he really do this to me?
I responded to her, asked for more details and we started talking about what he told her. But the more she told me -- times and dates he had messaged, things he said, a Facebook profile he had shared -- the more something seemed fishy in a totally different way.
He used his full, real last name. He said he was an Army Sergeant but posted (real) pictures of himself in uniform with totally different rank. He said in his Facebook profile that he was stationed in Detroit, Michigan and deployed to Kuwait. He talked with her at times that I knew for certain he was actually with me doing things like driving our car or sitting on a key in Florida without cell reception -- not using any phone or computer.
And he asked her for money at least six times, she said, saying it was the only thing he could receive where he was.
Thanks to my job here at Military.com, I get a lot of email from women who want to know if the service member they are talking to is the real deal or a scam -- someone stealing a real person's name and photo.
"He said I have to send him money so he can buy a permit from the Army to come home," said one such message I received just this week.
So was this my husband contacting women on Tinder and creating a fake Facebook profile? Or was it someone stealing his name and identity?
I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the answer to that. My husband and I reported the Facebook profile as being fake, and Facebook deleted it right away. That should also take care of the fake Tinder account, too (since, according to my research, they are linked).
Of course, nothing will not stop the scammers of the world from again using his photos and fake information about him. Thanks to my job I am a very public person, and my family comes along for the ride. But it isn't all me -- he has also been quoted on his own in news stories, including a few before I even started working in the MilSpouse news world. Like it or not, the information on us and photos are out there.
And if you've ever posted anything to any public social media site, your's are too.
Are scams like this inevitable? What can we do?
A part of me thinks that, yes, they are. Anyone can become the victim of internet theft like this. A service member in uniform is especially enticing to a scam artist looking to trick women into giving them money.
We can be careful about what personal information we post about ourselves. We can remember that if something smells like a scam, it is one.
And we can know that if our "husband" is contacting someone on Tinder, it may not really be him.