WASHINGTON — In today’s digital age, when most individuals communicate regularly with family and friends over social media platforms, one should always be awarethat online predators and scammers are lurking on those same platforms, actively stalking their next unsuspecting victims.
Now that the holidays are over and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, Special Agents with the U. Army Criminal Investigation Command, also known as CID, are anticipating a different type of holiday frenzy — an increase in “romance scam” reports.
They also found several false Nigerian passports and driving licences.
Some users of online dating websites have reported making contact with others claiming to be British Army soldiers on operations around the world, in particular, Afghanistan.
Typically, they have reported building a relationship over time, through correspondence and exchange of photos etc - but eventually there is an attempt to defraud when the spoof soldier either asks for bank account details to transfer a significant amount of money, or by asking for money to enable them to go on leave.
When she learned his last name, she did some searching--not something out of the ordinary at all."When I did a reverse image search, it came up that he was on all of these scam alerts,” Kristen said.
Not only did Kristen learn Jones was not who he claimed to be, but she saw she was far from the first to start a relationship who was pretending to be something they were not."Websites started popping up and articles about this military romance scam and how there's these groups of people in western Africa that this is like their full-time job. Army's Criminal Investigation Command website even has a warning on these military romance scams.
You may get an email from him and it will be missing your name or contain someone elses. In the letter, he may even say he is looking for the perfect girl.
If you question him, he will question your trust and say it was a mistake about the girl thing.Kristen, who is admittedly too humiliated to show her face on camera or use last name, says she met a guy who calls himself Stephen Jones on the dating site Plenty of Fish."He said he was in Afghanistan, and he was an NCO staff sergeant, like he knew all this information,” Kristen said.A Phoenix soldier out on deployment until April--at least that's what he said when the two started exchanging text messages."It was definitely blooming into something, and feelings were there,” Kristen said.The former is a long-established scam (known as "advance-fee fraud") while the latter is a new, but outright, con.British forces personnel on Operations do not have to pay to go on leave, or to pay for flights, or replacement personnel.The scammer talks a lot about honesty and trust in less than 5 minutes.