WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, continues to warn the greater Army community and the American public, to be vigilant of Internet scams and impersonation fraud, especially within popular social networking and dating websites.
CID special agents frequently receive reports from around the world of various scams involving criminals pretending to be U.S. Soldiers. These scam artists often portray themselves as male U.S. Soldiers; then prey on the unsuspecting victim’s emotions, leading to nothing more than broken promises and an empty bank account for their victims.
Cyber criminals also continue to create profiles of senior Army officers and noncommissioned officers, to include the use of official photographs, in an attempt to lure unsuspecting persons into revealing personal, banking or financial information.
Scammers will often make contact with potential victims through various social networking sites. After contact, often during instant messaging or email correspondence, the scammers attempt to manipulate and exploit their victims. Tactics used by cyber criminals include preying on their target’s emotions, appealing to the recipient’s sense of empathy or a desire for financial gain.
Complying with these requests often places the victim at risk financially and opens them up to the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Those who actively facilitate internet scams can face criminal charges. Soldiers and civilians who knowingly participate in the negotiation of fraudulent money orders or travel checks in furtherance of fraud schemes are subject to Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section1343, Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television.
The title states that individuals, who devise schemes to defraud, obtain money or property under false pretenses, representations and/or promises will be fined or imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. Violators that affect financial institutions can be imprisoned for not more than 30 years, fined up to $1 million, or both.
CID strongly recommends that Soldiers, civilians and Family members who come across any known suspicious social networking or dating site profile or are solicited in this fashion from a person posing as a U.S. Soldier, immediately email CID at Army.CID.Crime.Tips@mail.mil.
U.S. citizens and residents who have suffered a financial loss should contact their nearest field office of the United States Secret Service. Also, victims are advised to continue reporting these scam emails to law enforcement agencies.
What to look for:
Be extremely suspicious if asked for money for transportation costs, communication fees or marriage processing and medical fees.
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.
Those who start an Internet-based relationship with someone should check them out and research what they are saying with someone who would know, such as a current or former service member.
Be 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.
Be very suspicious if asked to send money or ship property to a third party or company. Oftentimes 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 very cautious when placing personal photographs on social media sites.
Where to go for help:
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations. Go to http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
By phone, call 1.877.ID.THEFT (438.4338) or TTY, 1.866.653.4261.
By mail, contact Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
Report the theft to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3. Go to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
In cases where a person’s identity has been used during the commission of these scams, such as a photograph, with no further personally identifiable information disclosed, report the fraud to the IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx as soon as possible to assist law enforcement.