How I catfished my catfisher: a W5 investigation into romance scams

But Sency, a petty officer 1st class stationed in Virginia Beach, has never met or even communicated with any of these people before. The year-old is the victim of a long-running series of scams that steal photos of service members and use them to swindle money out of people online. It works like this: a scammer takes photos of someone like Sency, creates a fake social media account and develops a new online persona — sometimes using the real name of the person in the photo. Then the scammer will strike up online conversations with women around the world, many of them older or vulnerable, and pretend to be in a hard spot. Sometimes they solicit risque photographs and use them as blackmail. The U. In addition to being in the Navy, he co-hosts a popular military podcast called The Smoke Pit and maintains a sizable public presence for it online.

No, this Virginia Beach sailor doesn’t want your love or money. It’s a scam, and he’s a victim too.

Scammers have caught on. The US Army Criminal Investigation Command has issued a warning to anyone dating a military service-person online claiming to be deployed overseas to be cautious. They have even organized task forces to deal with the rise in online dating scams in which a scammer will create a fake dating site or dating app profile using photos from military personnel deployed overseas.

In fact, hundreds of allegations pour in every month. The scammer will claim to be deployed overseas and lure the mark into a romantic entanglement. Some of these scams even go so far as to plan weddings.

Report a Scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency; we collect complaints from military personnel and their families.

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first. Retired U. Army Col. The year-old husband and father spent half his life in the military. They use his photos to pose as soldiers on Facebook and dating sites, where they trick women into surrendering thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards in the name of love. Set boundaries and recognize red flags. He reports every fake account he sees on Facebook, but new ones emerge faster than he can wipe them out.

Denny is one of several soldiers whose photos have been used to create fake dating profiles amid a global surge in military romance fraud. He gets tired of chasing down fake profiles. Last year, for instance, a handful of fake Facebook accounts were created using images of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the Canadian military reservist killed in a terror attack on Parliament Hill in

Romance scams

Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets. Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families.

Military Romance Scams. 48K likes. This page was created to warn facebook users about military romance scams and how the identities of our honorably.

Learn more. Hundreds of times a day, women here and overseas complain about being scammed by con artists posing as U. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Grey has made it a personal crusade to warn the public about the online scams that are using men in uniform as bait to reel in women who hand over cash in the name of love. Most of the victims are women in the U. The 2,person command Grey serves is in Quantico, Va. Thus it lacks jurisdiction to probe the barrage of incoming calls, since the service personnel are not victimized beyond having their names and photos misappropriated.

Still, what Grey likens to a game of whack-a-mole has become a priority for him as he battles the problem through public education and media outreach. It will end not in. As an infantryman who later became a combat correspondent and served in the first Gulf War, Grey knows better. Grey has been battling military-romance scams for about six years. Sometimes those who call the command are relatives alarmed by an online entanglement involving their mother or sister.

Suspect you or a loved one is being scammed?

Recognize Me? The fake and real faces of scammers

If you thought online dating websites are on the rise, than you would be right. However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honorable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering.

5 Things to Know About Military Romance Scams on Facebook said Akinola Bolaji, 35, a self-professed online scammer in Lagos, Nigeria.

Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars. The conspirators told many of the victims their money would be reimbursed once the gold bars arrived in the United States. In one case, a conspirator claimed he was a U. He sent her a fictitious airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her, along with a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as an Israeli citizen and UN delivery agent.

The next day she died by suicide. Authorities say Sarpong and his conspirators used various email accounts and Voice Over Internet protocol phone numbers to communicate with the victims and instruct them where to wire money. Authorities say the funds were then withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts and wired to conspirators in Ghana.

According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Sarpong was active on social media and “bragged about his wealth. Authorities say on March 2, , Sarpong posted a photograph of himself sitting in a car with a large stack of money up to his ear like a cellphone with a caption that read “WakeUp With k One Time. In a May 29, post, Sarpong posted a photograph of himself in front of a white Mercedes with the comment “BloodyMoney,” according to the complaint.

On December 12, , Sarpong posted a photograph of himself with an unidentified male with the comment “BigBusiness Done

Avoiding Scams – Send Money / Bitcoin

Red flags for love and relationships. I took to iraq or deployed military members should be meeting military romance scammers with other online dating scams are thousands. Memorize these are identity theft cases. Every year. Discover military singles as well as the highest financial losses five years ago, photos. Militaryspot personals is different than the u.

They want to text or email instead of using dating apps. Most websites monitor activity to spot scammers and give them the boot. They will suggest to go to a.

We’re going to be happy together. You’re the woman of my dreams. To make matters worse, she was recently laid off from her job as a financial analyst after 17 years with the same company. Her house is in foreclosure and she’s declared bankruptcy. That was when Ortiz-Rodeghero discovered a website called seniorpeoplemeet. Soon after, a man claiming to be an Army major general named Wayne Jackson contacted her.

He sent her a picture of a dashing, dark-haired man in fatigues. The man featured in the photo saw his image being used in online news reports and subsequently contacted ABCNews. The year military veteran, who retired last year, said his picture had been stolen from his former MySpace page. I don’t. Certainly not in this venue.

In the scammer’s initial messages to Ortiz-Rodeghero, he reportedly said he was stationed in Iraq, but he claimed he was going to retire and come home to the United States. He also claimed his sister had told him about the website and “convinced” him to use it, she said.

How to prove and fight online dating and romance scams

Online dating websites and apps can provide access to a vast dating pool. But be careful. They can also woo you with scams. Romance scammers prey on loneliness and trust. Scammers have been known to create fake profiles on dating sites and defraud would-be romantic partners out of money. The good news?

We’ve heard about scammers who say they are: working on an oil rig; in the military; a doctor with an international organization. Online dating scams graphic​.

Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.

They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging.

Meet the sailor who’s become the new face of military romance scams

Each week, I get letters by email, on my website, by Twitter and on Facebook from women who are sending money to Africa and Afghanistan to help service members come home. This is a scam!! These are not men who are in the United States military.

Online Dating Apps and Websites. Army / Military Scam. Overseas and Out of Country. Money Forwarding and Check Cashing. Payment for Goods or Services.

Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery. The U. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes.

See examples of fake documents used by scammers. There are a variety of words and phrases used by scammers to hook unsuspecting men and women into relationships. Here are some examples:. Scammers tend to use similar stories to convince men and women that they have a legitimate need. Here are common answers to those questions:. Never send money.

These Social Media Scams Affect the Military

Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal. What’s especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U.

The scammers are exploiting people’s good intentions toward our men and women in uniform, and exploit their goodwill.

7 Signs of a Military Romance Scam | Military Dating Scams. Are you sure you’re really in a relationship with the soldier you met online? Learn.

With the internet being so easily accessible these days, millions of people turn to online dating sites or social media to find a potential love interest. More unfortunate, military romance scams involve military members being scammed or the scammers posing as members of the military and stealing their online identities. Here is everything you need to know about who an online romance scammer is, what the red flags are of an online romance scam , and some tips to avoid falling for them in the future.

An online romance scammer is someone who creates a fake dating profile or social media account and targets people that are looking for love by striking up a relationship with them, only to take advantage of them later on by asking for money. The scammer will make up a fake story that requires money and asks their victims to send it to them. Some of these fake stories include things like, buying a plane ticket to come visit them, needing money for hospital or medical bills, visa fees, or other travel document fees.

Scammers will then get their victims to send them money via a wire transfer or through online gift cards such as Amazon. This type of payment will often allow them to stay anonymous and these transactions are almost always irreversible. If you have met someone online that says they are a member of the military — an army soldier, a sailor, a marine, or an airman then it is very important to make sure their claims are legitimate.

This is because more often than not an online romance scammer is someone who is claiming to be a member of the military.

Military Scams | Common Tricks & How to Avoid Them

A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers ; or forcing the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.

Number of cases rose from to in only two years. Romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people for the purpose of asking others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Communications are exchanged between the scammer and victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have connected with the victim enough to ask for money.

Romance scammers are clever, well organised and have a number of tried becoming a drug mule from a fraudulent online relationship.

Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community. Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause.

Bogus emails that look legitimate can offer fake alerts or information about the outbreak, fake workplace policy updates, or fake medical advice. By clicking on links in these emails, you could download malware or have your identity stolen. There are safety measures you can take to protect yourself: Avoid clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails.

Use trusted sources such as legitimate government websites for information. Avoid emails that insist you act now.

MIlitary facts and what a fake profile might be telling you