Scammers Use Dead Soldier IDs
It is an Internet scam that is catching on and hundreds of people have already fallen victim.
Christopher Grey with the Army’s criminal investigation unit says he has seen at least 25 cases of the scam in Colorado in the last year.
“One woman I personally talked to said she gave $25,000 to someone she believed was in the military,” Grey said.
While Army Sgt. James Hursey was home from combat overseas, he stumbled upon a Facebook page that had his pictures on it with a different name.
A man pretending to be Sgt. Mark Johnson was using Hursey’s picture and claimed to be a lonely serviceman looking for love.
“We’ve seen hundreds of these the past couple of years,” Grey said.
Authorities say scam artists are targeting women through online dating and social networking sites.
They steal photos of soldiers, set up profiles and send sappy messages to the women.
Then they ask for a check.
“They look to build a romantic relationship with women and then as soon as they get into the relationship, they will start asking for money,” Grey said. “The perpetrators are asking for ridiculous things, like leave papers, money for medical care. They obviously are false.”
It does not stop there.
“We have seen cases where soldiers have been killed in action and they take newspaper pictures from that and used those to build a profile,” Grey said.
Grey says most of the scams originate in foreign countries.
Because of that, there is little authorities can do after the money is sent.
“We don’t want people walking away thinking a serviceman did this to them because these people are not in the military – they are criminals,” he said.
The man using Hursey’s picture and pretending to be Johnson was caught.
His one Facebook friend – the woman he was trying to con – blew his cover.
Janice Robinson says she knew something was up when he professed his love to her and signed every letter with “Johnson cares.”
Gray says, so far, there have not been any reports of soldiers suffering a financial loss as a result of the scam.
Other victims, however, have lost thousands.