The U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attaché Office regularly receives inquiries from people who have established an online relationship with someone who is purportedly a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and they have been asked to send this service member money.
In many cases, the money has already been sent and the inquirer is seeking to verify if this is standard practice in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Unfortunately, in every situation presented to the DAO thus far, it has turned out to be an internet fraud.
Warnings from the U.S. Army CID
The U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) has released this press release regarding this type of internet fraud and attached here. It is recommended that you read these documents:
- Online Romance Scam Information (opens a new window)
- CID Warns of Social Networking, Dating Site Scams (PDF / 2 pages)
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, continues to warn the greater Army community and the American public, to be vigilant of internet scams and impersonation fraud, especially within popular social networking and dating websites.
These scam artists often portray themselves as male U.S. Soldiers; then prey on the unsuspecting victim’s emotions, leading to nothing more than broken promises and an empty bank account for their victims.
Cyber criminals also continue to create profiles of senior Army officers and non-commissioned officers, to include the use of official photographs, in an attempt to lure unsuspecting persons into revealing personal, banking or financial information.
- U.S. Army CID Warns Against Romance Scams (PDF /2 pages)
If you believe that you have been the victim of Internet fraud, please follow the advice presented in the above press release.
If you have specific questions that have not been addressed above, please email your inquiry to: DAOLondon@state.gov
Here are some common questions we get from victims of fraud.
How can fraudsters create fake IDs?
There is a vast amount of information that is within the public domain on the Internet. This includes photographs of U.S. service personnel that have been published by both official sources, such as the Department of Defense, and by the individual service members themselves.
Therefore, it is very easy for anyone to download images of U.S. personnel and then use them to create a profile on an internet dating/social networking website without the service member knowing. All the photographs that have been received by the DAO appear to be genuine; however, the perpetrators normally alter the name making positive identification near impossible.
How does a member of the U.S. Armed Forces request leave?
While specific procedures for requesting and granting leave differ among the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, they do have one item in common. The request and authorization to take leave is between the individual service member and his immediate command – family, friends, third parties are not involved.
I have been asked to help pay for leave. Is that normal?
The military normally only requires contact information for the service member at their leave destination. There is no requirement for family or friends to request leave on behalf of the service member or provide extensive personal information. There is no requirement for family or friends to pay for the service member’s leave and there are no processing/administrative fees involved with requesting leave.
But I’ve seen official documents!
“Official” documents are often sent with the above mentioned leave requests. While there is a paperwork requirement for the service member to complete, family members and/or friends are not asked to complete paperwork in order for the service member to take leave.
The following attached documents are examples of forgeries that have been submitted to DAO London. Again, these are forgeries and are NOT used by any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Fraudulent example of a Leave Request (PDF / 1 page)
- Fraudulent example of “leave charges” (PDF / 1 page)
- Fraudulent example of a leave approval form (PDF / 1 page)
I think I am a victim of a scam. Can you help?
The DAO recommends that you read the following general information about internet fraud:
- Department of State – International Financial Scams including romance scams
- Be aware that something that seems too good to be true usually is!