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Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Military Scams

military scams

The men and women in my family have proudly served in every branch of the military. My grandad saw snow for the first time in France during WWI and my dad and uncles were stationed in Germany pre-Vietnam. My college roommate’s father was a Tuskegee Airman and even I was in the ROTC in college. I have a deep and abiding appreciation for those who defend our country, but I have come to realize that not everyone does.

Veterans and active-duty members often face financial concerns and are increasingly the specific target of military scams and theft which has caused them to lose nearly $405 million to fraudulent schemes since 2012, according to a new report that analyzed data from the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau.

Identifying Military Scams

According to the information provided by The Military Times,

Bank and lender scams, romance scams, employment scams, benefits scams, identity theft scams. In terms of who sustained the most substantial losses, active-duty personnel and veterans of the U.S. Army were hardest hit and conned nearly 577,000 times since 2012 to the tune of over $142 million. The most common schemes over the last seven years have been the fraudulent employment variety, the report said, which generally targeted newly discharged veterans looking for that much-desired first job as a civilian.

Military Times

In these scenarios, scammers will often notify targets that they’ve been selected for employment, often with claims of having found the veteran on a popular job board, such as LinkedIn. Once “hired,” the veteran is instructed to purchase work equipment through a website secretly operated by the fraudsters. The scammers then inform the vet that he or she will be receiving a check to reimburse the amount spent on the nonexistent equipment — it bounces, of course.

A steady paycheck and benefits make our military men and women much sought after targets from all fronts.  Payday loan stores are often heavily concentrated near military bases and installations. To make their pay stretch, many military families resorted to writing a post-dated check for cash to help them make it to the next pay, but these loans come with steep interest -- sometimes as much as 300-500%. While not technically a scam because they are legal in many states, such loans are truly predatory.

Military scams and predators also show up on dating sites that cater to the military and can be quite skilled at fooling individuals into giving up their hard-earned pay.

CID’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit also cautions Soldiers themselves to be on the guard for “sext-ortion scams.” In these scams, criminals engage in online sexual activity with unsuspecting service members and then demand money or favors in exchange for not publicizing potentially embarrassing images, video or information.

U.S. Army -- Social Media Scams

According to military.com, there are some common red flags that could indicate a military scam or fraud.

Warning Signs of Scams

  • Claim they are on a “peacekeeping” mission.
  • Say they are looking for an honest woman.
  • Note that their parents, wife or husband is deceased.
  • Claim they have a child or children being cared for by a nanny or other guardian.
  • Profess their love almost immediately or that they cannot wait to be with you.
  • Claim they cannot talk on the phone or via webcam for security reasons.
  • Tell you they are sending you something (money, jewelry) through a diplomat.
  • Claim to be in the U.S. military; however, their English and grammar do not match that of someone born and raised in the United States.

It saddens me that there are those who go after our military but I’m glad that there are strategies to keep them out of harm’s way regarding scammers and thieves. If you or someone you love is the victim of a military scam or any scam, you can report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.


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