Con artists push military scam to bilk unsuspecting victims out of cash

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - If you meet someone online claiming to be in the military who starts asking for money, beware.

That soldier in uniform may be real, but his identity has been stolen.

It turns out he's also a victim of a military scam.

Scammers are targeting U.S. service members, stealing their pictures from their social media pages.

Then they find their next victim on dating sites and con them out of cash.

"People are using my pictures, a lot of times with my name, sometimes with a fake name or different name at least 20 times I've reported," said Command Sergeant Major Doug Wortham out of Minnesota.

He constantly searches for himself online.

Unfortunately, he's not the only victim of this scam.

The website posts photos of service members commonly used in scams.

Three full pages come up, but they're not the bad guys.

These are real people, who are now working to get their identity back after it was stolen.

"I remind my service members, my soldiers and airmen that they ought to be very cautious when—with their own profiles in particular," said Command Sergeant Major Wortham.

In military scams, thieves strike up a relationship and then ask for money for transportation and medical bills, or for food and housing overseas.

They even claim they need cash for leave or early retirement.

But all of that is covered by the military.

Scammers sometimes send false documents to their victims to "prove" their story.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command posts dozens of samples of the phony documents online and they say the problem is growing.

Command Sergeant Major Wortham can't keep up with all of the fake profiles popping up with his name or picture.

"In the last couple of weeks I've seen an increase. I report something to Facebook, it comes down and within an hour, a new profile has already been built," he said.

The U.S. Army says scammers are hard to track down.

They're often from African countries and use untraceable email addresses and accounts.

If you've fallen for a scam like this, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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