Archive for the ‘Valor Thieves and Other Scamming Skeeves’ Category

Thanks to Marine Times for posting this article. The idiocy to which dating scammers and identity thieves will stoop is so complete, it apparently knows no bounds.

The targets include the usual for military dating scams – sensitive, patriotic women with heartstrings that can be easily tugged by a man in uniform. Or a man posing in uniform. Or someone using a picture of a man in uniform. The modi operandi are the same as reported here.

The bait this time? Stolen pictures of Marine commandant nominee Gen. Joseph Dunford. As Marine Times says, if you want to look him up on any social networking site or you get a message from someone claiming to be him, click with caution. See if you can identify any characteristics of a scam. Report, report, report.

And enjoy that Marine Times article. It gave me a good laugh.

At this point, I think I’ll need to create an entire category just for exposing the mil-scammers, because- to paraphrase Casey Kasem- these hits just keep on coming.

mikejones

This guy calls himself “Mike Jones,” but I sure as all get out don’t see any last name where it should be. He claims to be from Chicago, Illinois, and he says he loves meeting new people around the world. I sure bet he does. It’s tough to swindle total strangers, after all.

Anyway, Mike “No Name” Jones sent me this message:

how are you doing Valerie? i saw your comment on cup of joe. you look real good and adoring, cant wait to drop you a message. i will love to hear back from you dear

So this guy is trawling veterans’ charity sites, such as Cup of Joe for a Joe, looking for possible marks. This rather alarmed and angered me, but I wish I could say it was a surprise. There is no level too low for scammers like this to stoop. On checking out No Name’s profile, I noticed he had eight Facebook “friends,” all of them women, and only one from the Chicago area.

I responded telling him that I volunteer in veterans’ advocacy, and also that I’m married and work on exposing military dating scams. But I suppose I also need to keep getting the message out to his targets and those of scum like him that sweet, compassionate patriotic ladies who prefer to assume the best of people are far too good for a guy who takes selfies of him wearing the uniform wrong.

kevinlarry

Now I invite all my friends in the military to have fun picking apart this picture. “Kevin Larry,” supposedly seen here, sent me the following message:

hello there how are you doing..i am new here trying to look for old friends i just sow your profile and i like it i will love to know you good. Well how can I describe myself? I am a friendly, and loves to talk, and make friends, I am a person who generally gets along with people.Well, I am looking to meet new people, who are fun to be with, and know how to enjoy life.Well my interests are meeting new people and making friends,going to the gym, love reading, singing, dancing,love shopping like every other person, eating out, I could love to go on and on, but I think I am going to stop right here, hope to here from you soon

Of course, I checked his profile. He claimed to live in New York City, but didn’t seem to have any friends there. He allegedly used to live in Empire, California, but again didn’t have any friends there. The only employer he listed was “government.” An arsenal of hearts, puppy dogs, and teddy bears sporting sappy declarations of love made up nearly half of his pics. Doubtless, he used those to distract his Facebook “friends” – nearly all of whom are women – with a display of heart melting sweetness.

One of his “friends” said that he was looking for a woman to be a mother to his children. I believe that this former profile picture of his expresses his real desire more honestly.

kevinlarrysdesire

Due to expecting a message from a potential writing contact, I decided to check my “other” message folder on Facebook. I hadn’t received the anticipated message yet, but I was not prepared to see so many messages from strange men completely dazzled by my charm and beauty. Of course I became immediately suspicious.

“Hanks Miller” claims to be a West Point graduate and a captain in the US Army. Since his pictures show a man in uniform with the last name of Miller, it’s apparent he’s done some homework.

hanksmiller

He just apparently didn’t do much homework in English, judging by the message he sent me.

Hello Sweettie,

You look cute and your profile picture attracts me to know you more, i am single and i am new in this site, i was married but i lost my wife about 2 years ago and i am left with my little daughter Courtney whom is in USA under the care of a nanny. i am 48 years and i wish to have a good relationship with a woman, whom is good, caring and has a good understanding.i will like to know you that is why i send you this message, please send me a message and tell me little about yourself.

Regards Hanks

I’m contemplating sending the following in response:

Dear “Capt. Miller,”

Aw, shucks. I bet you say that to all the girls… literally. It looks like you sent the same message out en masse to see who’d take the bait. If you had really seen my profile, you’d know that I’m married and uninterested in anyone else calling me “sweettie.” You’d figure that, as a writer, I’m not won over with such bad spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You would have also seen a link to this blog, where I frequently expose military frauds like you. Yeah. I’m not such a “sweettie” any more, am I? Consider your account reported and your marks notified, you fake.

Sincerely,

A woman far too smart for you

I was glad to see evidence that there are other similarly intelligent people on Facebook. “Hoffman Barry,” who was allegedly pictured in ACU standing next to a humvee, sent a message beginning with, “Hello, Beautiful, how are you doing?” When I clicked it, I saw, “This message is no longer available because it was identified as abusive or marked as spam.”

I only wish every military spammer/scammer was reported like this.

We’ll call this woman Wendy. After receiving warning about our previous subject, “West George,” she alerted me that somebody else had attempted to scam her and involve her in possible shipping fraud.

As for what I will call the accused, let’s just say the name he’s using doesn’t look that of the guy in the picture.

christopherscott

“Christopher Scott” says he’s a captain in the US Army from Ft Washington, Maryland. With that, the rugged looks of the man pictured, and a cute little puppy dog, who could possibly resist? Even I’d succumb to the awwww factor if I didn’t suspect something up. And a lot of people have. Based on who I see commenting on and liking his posts and pictures on Facebook, most are women, none are fellow soldiers, and none are from Maryland.

Wendy corresponded with him for a while. She told him she was a former military wife, and that’s when, as she put it, “he pushed the big sale.”

Once he figured she bought it, he asked if he could send her some personal belongings and items he’d collected in Afghanistan. When she started asking questions, however, his responses became, as she said, “few and far between.”

He then told her he couldn’t get on Facebook often enough and requested her email address. She gave that to him, and soon received the following email from a third party, an alleged shipping agency.

Dear Esteemed Customer

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your consignment.Be informed that
your Consignment with deposit registration No:QTL/3219 Ref: QTL 3219 has
been set for delivery and your delivery protocol has not been activated.

You are to note that your package has not been moved due to the
registration/delivery charges has not yet been completed.the total charge
of this delivery is 1520 U.S Dollars but the registrant of this parcel Mr
Ingel Deglesia George only paid the sum of 500 U.S Dollars,

Meanwhile your shipping tracking number facility will not be activated
while package is yet to be processed for delivery.Tracking number will be
given to you as soon as the balance of the payment is made.

So you owe us the balance of 1020 U.S Dollars and it will be paid before the
delivery process starts.

Note that as soon as the deposit of the balance $1020 Dollars is paid and
confirmed, your Package will proceed for immediate delivery to your
location within 48hrs after receipt of payment.

You are advise to send the fee through Western Union/Money Gram to our
correspondent officer in United States with the information below.

The email then gave the name of an “area representative in the United States” and an address in Garden City, Kansas and insisted that payment go through this “representative” for documentation and processing. Wendy, being a now very suspicious former military wife, did not send a penny.

As for “Christopher Scott,” I tried to contact him. So far, no dice.

Allow me to introduce to you West George, allegedly from Freeport, Maine, currently claiming to serve in Karachi, Pakistan.

westgeorge1

He had sent me a friend request on Facebook not too long ago. Like the generally optimistic person I am, I accepted. He quickly sent me a message. “Hello, baby,” it read, albeit with no capitalization or punctuation. “Thanks for accepting me.”

That was the first red flag. Then again, I don’t like being called “baby,” especially by some guy I don’t even know. Still, my gut told me something was up. I politely asked how he was doing, and I checked his profile.

That raised even more red flags. I saw that among his Facebook “friends,” he listed no friends or family from Maine and no fellow soldiers as friends. His only Facebook friends were women in or around Idaho. And he only posted two pictures- the one above and another showing him wearing the more current ACU. As the woodland camouflage print has not been in use by the Army for ages, I asked how long he’d been in the Army.

“About seven years,” he replied.

I asked what he was doing in Karachi.

He said it was for “peace keeping.”

I asked what his MOS was. His response, in all its mangled English, was, “im gonna tell you later as you know every thing in military is confidential and privacy i think you know this?”

“Not everything is,” I replied. He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I listed some of the various jobs in the military that aren’t all that sensitive.

He changed the subject. “I would love to know you more,” he said. “How is your family?”

I said, “Great,” then asked him his rank.

He didn’t answer. He just asked if I was single or married.

Now anyone who knows me knows I’m happily married and fiercely devoted to my husband. Of course, based on what I observed about West’s other Facebook contacts, that could only mean he’d have to abandon the dating scam angle and try something else. As he selected targets who were known for their patriotism and their support for the troops, he still had something he could use to manipulate us, but I think he realized he wouldn’t be able to sucker me when I mentioned I have friends who’ve recently returned from Afghanistan. The conversation ended there, but my work was not done.

I contacted my friend CJ, sent him a link to West’s Facebook page, and wasn’t surprised when he confirmed my suspicions. I then alerted West’s other Facebook contacts, and that’s when I uncovered a whole lot more- but that will be the subject of another post.

Meanwhile, “West George,” I’m keeping an eye on you. Update: I’ll be keeping an eye on you, “West,” not the poor soldier whose pictures the folks at guardianofvalor.com confirmed you stole.

photo(1)

Military dating scams are nothing new. Milbloggers and civilian journalists have been exposing and reporting on these cons for years. It just so happens that I count one such milblogger as a friend and so I was well aware when Glamour magazine worked with him in 2012 on getting the word out everywhere.

(And indeed, the only way I would have known about Glamour’s report is because they were working with Army Master Sergeant CJ Grisham. Fashion magazines in general are accessories I do without, as anyone could tell by looking at me, but I digress.)

Glamour reported in its October, 2012 issue on a wide variety of dating scams all estimated to cheat women out of at least a total of four thousand dollars every hour. However, embarrassment over having been duped likely keeps a lot of victims for reporting these crimes, so the figure is likely to be much higher.

And I don’t like it- with the most burning acidic rage you can possibly read into those simple words “I don’t like it.”

A quick Google search can yield an abundance of information about online dating safety, types of scams, and the behavior one can expect from a scammer. Different types of scams include:

The Emergency Scam

Plane Ticket & Visa Scam

Police Scam

Cashing Money Order Scam

Inheritance Scams

Disaster Relief Scams

Business Investment Scams

Sometimes, scammers rope their victims into abetting other crimes like check fraud or reshipping of stolen or illegally purchased property. Of course they don’t come right out and invite strangers into a life of victimization and crime. They typically take several steps first.

1. Scammers post fake profiles and attractive pictures on dating and/or social networking sites.

2. Scammer send out messages or friendship requests. They can either be sent out en masse, or to specifically targeted individuals.

3. If any messages or requests get responses, scammers then encourages potential victims away from the site’s standard messaging channels toward more personal correspondence like email.

4. Once they’ve established their victim’s misplaced trust and forged a bond, then they start requesting money or bizarre favors.

And, of course, throughout the whole process, they lie like carpets on a stained floor. They’ll lie about their ages, jobs, where they live, how they really look, and so forth. A typical dating scam might involve someone lying about being a model or a poor, aspiring actor. And when they’re about to really sink their teeth into a victim, they’ll come up with some heart-wrenching sob story.

The typical dating scam can be identified a number of ways, but generally, if something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Military dating scams can also be easily recognized if you know how to look for details. A military scammer is likely to demonstrate ignorance of military rankings, uniforms, and policies. They may snag pictures of other people and repost them as pictures of themselves, or they may have acquired uniforms from military surplus or even off the black market. Those who post pictures of themselves “in uniform,” are likely to wear them wrong and wear insignia that does not reflect their claimed rank or skills. And if you ask them questions about their MOS, their specific job in the military, they suddenly claim it’s classified, and then they change the subject and want to know more about you.

Military scammers also run some slightly different variations of the aforementioned dating scams. They may ask victims to “help” pay for phone or internet service so they can stay in touch while deployed. If they claim they’re about to retire, they may ask for “help,” in the form of your money and personal information of course, applying for a “military retirement account.” They might claim they are returning home- whether for good, for a short leave, or for some emergency- and need help paying for their flight. They may claim they want to send some of their personal belongings to you before their return, and need help paying some shipping agency. What you need to know is that the military pays for flights home. There are no such things as military retirement accounts, you don’t need to help anyone apply for one, and you don’t need to pay extra for phone or internet just to keep in touch with someone who is deployed.

In other words, if they request money, don’t send it, and don’t give any of your information to any third party “military” agency.

Thanks in part to the abundant information MSgt. Grisham provided, I’ve been able to avoid being scammed. But I have been targeted along with other people I know. Consequently, I’ve got a lot more to say on the subject, and apparently there is still a need to alert the well-meaning civilian population.

Meanwhile, you can check out MSgt. Grisham’s posts on the subject here.
http://asp.militarygear.com/tag/military-dating-scams/