Cmdr. Scot Cregan didn’t set out to have multiple personalities, but these days he has several on Facebook. They aren’t actually his profiles, of course, but fake profiles created with his picture (usually in uniform). Most feature derivations of his actual name. Cregan has seen himself on Facebook under the names “David Marc Cregan,” “Eric Cregan,” “Creagan Anderson,” “Cregan Diamond,” (um, okay) and his favorite, the ever-original “Cregan Cregan.” To date, he estimates there have been over 100 fake profiles on social media using his information.
Cregan, who is a reservist currently serving on active duty, routinely reports the fake profiles to Facebook but the automated format of the complaint process means in some of the cases Facebook comes back to him and claims the profiles don’t meet their criteria for removal.
"About 70 percent of the time they take them down right away, but if you can believe it, there are times I have to go back to them and say ‘Hey, this is really not me and I’m for sure not a "private in the Navy" as they have listed.'"
While the process to get the profiles removed can be annoying, he does get a kick out of how much the scammers don’t know about the military. “One profile had me as being a Navy officer who graduated from West Point,” he said. He’s also has photos of a Common Access Cards (CAC), the official identification card of the U.S. military, with his photo and fake names. The card lists him as an “Army Navy Officer” but shows his rank as a sergeant.
Perhaps it’s time to create a “Stolen Valor” cell at Facebook, manned by veterans and military spouses who can easily identify glaring mistakes like these? Hey, Zuckerberg, are you listening? Veteran hiring program idea!
Cregan says the fake profiles started showing up after he completed a tour in Afghanistan in 2010 where his job was handling social media at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul.
With so many of his profiles being used to scam people, Cregan has gotten used to taking phones calls from irate family members or jilted would-be lovers. “I feel so bad for some of them, I try and explain what must have happened and tell them to please don’t send money to people who are pretending to be in the military. If they ask you for money, they are not real.”
Cregan is in good company when it comes to having his picture stolen. Retired General Mark Welsh, the Former Air Force Chief of Staff, was in the news this week because someone swiped his photo and used it to build a fake profile on a Trump dating site.
For now, Cregan closely monitors his credit report and hopes none of this ends up affecting his security clearance. He says friends and family help find the fake profiles and he keeps screenshots of them in a folder on his personal (actual) Facebook page for people to see and comment on. He also routinely posts about the fake pages and warns others, especially in the military, to keep an eye on their own information. Trust him when he says no one wants to end up on Facebook as “Cox Cregan.”