Beware of emails from someone claiming to be a soldier, usually in Iraq, who either wants to "get to know you" via a social/dating site or is asking for your help with a large amount of found money. These are two variations of fraud involving a scammer impersonating a US soldier.
Romance/penpal variation of the scam:
A scammer will contact a victim, usually a woman, on a social or dating site. The scammer will spend some time emailing or chatting with the victim through instant messenger or phone, developing a relationship that usually has a romantic component. Once a connection has been established, the scammer will then ask for help with one of the following:
- Getting leave
- Obtaining a phone
- Help transfering a large sum of money
Help Getting Leave scam
- In this scam the fake soldier will tell you that he would like to meet you but in order to do that he will need to make an application for leave which will require a fee to be paid.
- You will be introduced to other characters played by the scammer, supposedly his superiors or other government officials, who will tell you that fees such as a "replacement officer fee" need to be paid (often by Western Union or Money Gram) to various departments or officials such as Department of Defense or Homeland Security.
- After you pay the fee, the scammer will give you a new reason as to why he can't be with you, requiring you to send even more money to overcome this fictitious obstacle. This cycle will continue as long as the victim is willing to pay.
Important facts to note about Military leave:
- Military leave is not bought. There are never fees to be paid before leave will be granted.
- A visit to a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancee would not qualify as emergency leave.
- An outside person can not apply for leave for someone in the US military. Only the soldier can apply, through official military channels.
If you are corresponding with someone who claims to be from any branch of the US military, and he asks you to complete ANY military forms, or you are contacted by any "military official" in relation to him/her, it is a scam.
Help obtaining a phone scam
In this variation, a scammer posing as a soldier will need your help to continue to communicate with you.
- The fake soldier will prey on your emotions, claiming that he will be deployed to an area without internet or communication services and won't be able to write/chat/talk unless you help him to sign up for an expensive telecommunications service such as "Military TELEX".
- You will be asked to pay for a satellite phone, service, or both. In some cases, you will be sent to an official-looking telecommunications company website and instructed to order the phone and/or service online. The website will be a fake, created by the scammer and/or his accomplices. Any money sent to pay for phones and/or services will ultimately end up in the hands of the scammer and his accomplices.
Important Note: Even in Afghanistan and Iraq, military personnel are NOT REQUIRED to subscribe to outside services to communicate with friends and family.
Help transfering a large sum of money Scam
See the below section on the Advance Fee Variation of this scam.
Advance Fee Variation of this scam:
The advanced fee fraud variation may be directed at either gender and a romance component may or may not be involved. In this variation, the scammer will tell you he has a large amount of money stashed away and needs help getting it out of the country. He will tell you he got the money through any one of a number of fanciful lies, the most common being: a payment from a government contract or money "found" while on duty.
- The scammer will explain that he needs to get the money out of the country by some form of courier, a "diplomatic courier" is a very common lie here.
- He will introduce you to other characters which he plays himself. These may include a barrister, a "diplomatic" courier company, banker, etc. In every scenario, there will be fees needing to be paid in advance of completing the transaction of moving the supposed monies.
- The scammer will usually ask for these fees to be paid through a cash wiring service such as Western Union or Money Gram, offering you a large portion of the non-existent "stash" in exchange for your assistance.
Like all advanced fee fraud scams, regardless of how many fees you pay, there will be no end to them and you'll never collect a large sum of money. The large fund does not exist.
If you have been a victim of this scam: Stop all contact with the scammer immediately. Be aware that any money you have paid is not recoverable. Be on the lookout for Recovery Scams and do not hesitate to post on our forum or contact one of the support team members for advice and assistance.
Additional links and resources:
For more information on advance fee fraud scams, please read our Introduction To Advance Fee Frauds
For more information on Romance scams, please read An Introduction to Love or Dating Scams
A profile of a scammer using a romance variation of this scam can be seen on our forum HERE
An example of emails used for the advance fee variation of the scam can be seen on our forum HERE
Examples of photos, fake ID and documents used can be found in our Fake Documents And Photos Forum
SoldiersPerspective.us - Anatomy of a Military Dating Scam
Hoax-Slayer.com - Iraq Soldier Advance Fee Scam
Warning by the United States Army CID
Scam warning - TS2 Warns of Fraudulent Satellite Offers