The criminals who carry out the scams use the names and ranks of servicemen in combat areas, match it with photos of soldiers obtained from the Internet and then build false identities used to lure unsuspecting women.
“We have even seen instances where the soldier was killed in action, and the crooks have used that hero’s identity to perpetrate their twisted scam,” said CID Special Agent Matthew Ivanjack.
Romantic requests have involved “carefully worded” appeals from victims to help buy laptop computers, international telephones or other items that will be used by the fake deployed troops. The victims are asked to send money, sometimes thousands of dollars, to third-party addresses.
Other cybercrimes involving the impersonation of U.S. soldiers have even involved the bogus sale of a vehicle through wire transfers of funds.
“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 Mr. Grey, the CID spokesman.
In one case, a New York woman took out a second mortgage on her home to send money in one scam that cost her $60,000.
Another woman in Britain was taken for more than $75,000 by con artists.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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