Information on romance scams and scammers.
#22518 by Dotti Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:52 am
Scammers Impersonating Military Personnel

Beware of emails from someone claiming to be a soldier, usually in Iraq,Syria or Afghanistan, 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 flight home
  • Obtaining a phone
  • Help transfering a large sum of money/receiving personal belongings
Obtaining a flight home
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 you 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. The US military makes sure soldiers have the means to contact their loved ones. Each soldier is give an official email address that ends in .mil (with nothing after it). If a soldier cannot email you AND receive email from a .mil address, he is not real.

Help transfering a large sum of money/receiving personal belongings 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 or that he wants to send personal belongings to the victim. 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/belongings 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 - Anatomy of a Military Dating Scam - Iraq Soldier Advance Fee Scam
Warning by the United States Army CID
Scam warning - TS2 Warns of Fraudulent Satellite Offers ... nce_scams/
Last edited by AlanJones on Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:21 am, edited 2 times in total. Reason: Added Syria.

Need to post photos?
Are you a victim of a romance scam? Read here for advice and FAQ's.

#361493 by AlanJones Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:01 am
This is a warning from the Army about this scam. ... nce_scams/

QUANTICO, Va. (July 30, 2014) -- Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, commonly known as CID, are once again warning internet users worldwide about cyber criminals involved in an online crime that CID has dubbed "the Romance Scam."

CID special agents continue to receive numerous reports from victims located around the world regarding various scams of persons impersonating U.S. Soldiers online. Victims are usually unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who believe they are romantically involved with an American Soldier, yet are being exploited and ultimately robbed, by perpetrators who strike from thousands of miles away.

"We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the internet and claim to be in the U.S. military," said Chris Grey, Army CID's spokesman.

"It is very troubling to hear these stories over and over again of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone," Grey said.

The majority of the "romance scams," are being perpetrated on social media and dating-type websites where unsuspecting females are the main target.

The criminals are pretending to be U.S. servicemen, routinely serving in a combat zone. The perpetrators will often take the true rank and name of a U.S. Soldier who is honorably serving his country somewhere in the world, or has previously served and been honorably discharged, then marry that up with some photographs of a Soldier off the internet, and then build a false identity to begin prowling the internet for victims.

The scams often involve carefully worded romantic requests for money from the victim to purchase special laptop computers, international telephones, military leave papers, and transportation fees to be used by the fictitious "deployed Soldier" so their false relationship can continue. The scams include asking the victim to send money, often thousands of dollars at a time, to a third party address.

Once victims are hooked, the criminals continue their ruse.

"We've even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to purchase "leave papers" from the Army, help pay for medical expenses from combat wounds or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone," said Grey.

These scams are outright theft and are a grave misrepresentation of the U.S. Army and the tremendous amount of support programs and mechanisms that exist for Soldiers today, especially those serving overseas, said Grey.

Along with the romance-type scams, CID has been receiving complaints from citizens worldwide that they have been the victims of other types of scams -- once again where a cyber crook is impersonating a U.S. service member. One version usually involves the sale of a vehicle; where the service member claims to be living overseas and has to quickly sell their vehicle because they are being sent to another duty station. After sending bogus information regarding the vehicle, the seller requests the buyer do a wire transfer to a third party to complete the purchase. When in reality, the entire exchange is a ruse for the crook to get the wire transfer and leave the buyer high and dry, with no vehicle.

Army CID continues to warn people to be very suspicious if they begin a relationship on the internet with someone claiming to be an American Soldier and within a matter of weeks, the alleged Soldier is asking for money, as well as discussing marriage.

The majority of these scams have a distinct pattern to them, explained Grey.

The perpetrators often tell the victims that their units do not have telephones or they are not allowed to make calls or they need money to "help keep the Army internet running." They often say they are widowers and raising a young child on their own to pull on the heartstrings of their victims.

"We've even seen where the criminals said that the Army won't allow the Soldier to access their personal bank accounts or credit cards," said Grey.

All lies, according to CID officials.

"These perpetrators, often from other countries, most notably from West African countries, are good at what they do and quite familiar with American culture, but the claims about the Army and its regulations are ridiculous," said Grey.

The Army reports that numerous very senior officers and enlisted Soldiers throughout the Army have had their identities stolen to be used in these scams.

To date, there have been no reports to Army CID indicating any U.S. service members have suffered any financial loss as a result of these attacks. Photographs and actual names of U.S. service members have been the only thing utilized. On the contrary, the victims have lost thousands.

One victim revealed that she had sent more than $60,000 to the scammer. Another victim from Great Britain told CID officials that over the course of a year, she had sent more than $75,000 to the con artists.

"The criminals are preying on the emotions and patriotism of their victims," added Grey.

The U.S. has established numerous task force organizations to deal with this and other growing issues; unfortunately, the people committing these scams are using untraceable email addresses on Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc., routing accounts through numerous locations around the world, and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes, which often times maintain no accountability of use. The ability of law enforcement to identify these perpetrators is very limited, so individuals must stay on the alert and be personally responsible to protect themselves.

"Another critical issue is we don't want victims who do not report this crime walking away and thinking that a U.S. serviceman has ripped them off when in fact that serviceman is honorably serving his country and often not even aware that his pictures or identity have been stolen," said Grey.

What to look for:

DON'T EVER SEND MONEY! Be extremely suspicious if you are asked for money for transportation costs, communication fees or marriage processing and medical fees.

Carefully check out the stories you are being told. If it sounds suspicious, there is a reason, it's routinely false -- trust your instincts.

If you do start an internet-based relationship with someone, check them out, research what they are telling you with someone who would know, such as a current or former service member.

Be very suspicious if you never get to actually speak with the person on the phone or are told you cannot write or receive letters in the mail. Servicemen and women serving overseas will often have an APO or FPO mailing address. Internet or not, service members always appreciate a letter in the mail.

Military members have an email address that end in ".mil." If the person you are speaking with cannot sent you at least one email from a ".mil" (that will be the very LAST part of the address and nothing after), then there is a high probability they are not in the military.

Many of the negative claims made about the military and the supposed lack of support and services provided to troops overseas are far from reality -- check the facts.

Be very suspicious if you are asked to send money or ship property to a third party or company. Often times the company exists, but has no idea or is not a part of the scam.

Be aware of common spelling, grammatical or language errors in the emails.

Be cognizant of foreign and regional accents that do not match the person's story.


Report the theft to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership) at

Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at

Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations.

Report the theft by phone at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261.

Report the theft by mail at the following address:

Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580

Report the fraud by email to the Federal Trade Commission on Nigerian Scams via at [email protected].

For more information on CID, visit

Please do not tell scammers that they are listed here - it will take them seconds to change their fake details and their new details will not be listed for any future victims to find.

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