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Fraudsters Use Fake Military Forms to Convince Lovesick Women to Send Money

Here’s how the scam works: A lonely person, usually a woman, logs on to an internet dating website, looking for love.

She clicks on a profile, showing a man in uniform. Sometimes she sends him a message, sometimes he messages her. It doesn’t matter. They connect.

He’s all she ever dreamed of. He’s smart. He’s charming. He’s understanding. He compliments her. He sends photos. Poetry. He isn’t scared off by her photos and poetry.

And he’s in Afghanistan.

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, he’s able to write his way into her heart. She bares her soul to him. And after a few weeks, he has good news: He has some leave coming, and he wants to visit her!

And that’s when the snake lunges.

She gets a message saying he has a problem with his bank, and can’t cash his checks. Or he can’t access his account where he is. Or his commanders have instructed him to make a deposit into a “secured leave fund” and he doesn’t have the cash. Or – get this… his plane home stopped in Ghana, and customs is demanding that he pay a $2,000 excise fee or he can’t get out of the country. Can you please wire him the money? He will pay you as soon as he is back in the U.S.

These human vermin sometimes get their marks to send five and six-figure sums multiple times. Sometimes they’ll close on a small amount, and return it promptly to build credibility for a bigger amount later.

Naturally, the victim never sees the love nor the money.

But the fake forms are hilarious.

That’s right: These criminals actually design their own forms – intended to look like official military forms – to lend credence to their lies and support the illusion.

To a veteran, they are invariably obvious fakes. And they should be obvious fakes to any clear-thinking person. But remember, the lovelorn victims of these scams are anything but clear-thinking. They believe what they want to believe, and the fact that anyone falls for these online romance schemes represents the triumph of hope over common sense.

It’s a vile, cruel crime. This and various other similar Nigerian scams are almost certainly underreported, but a 2006 report indicates that Americans lose as much as $200 million per year to these scams, with the average loss just over $5,100 per incident. Incidentally, according to the study, only 6 percent of so-called “Nigerian scams” actually originate in Nigeria. The Nigerian government claims it has cracked down on domestic scam operations and managed to recover a staggering sum: $750 million for victims over the years.

Now, few of our readers are likely to fall for the military variation of the scam. We just know too much about how the military operates to pull the wool over our eyes.

But we have mothers, sisters and daughters – and occasionally fathers, brothers and sons – who think like this.

Defensive Measures

Spread the word:

  • Military correspondence is formal, and usually very highly proofed.
  • Be suspicious of military forms with basic military usage errors.
  • Military forms don’t use comic sans fonts.
  • Deployed soldiers have their own money, and they don’t need money to catch a flight back to the U.S. for leave.
  • Don’t send cash to people you’ve never met.
  • Bona fide military members should be able to email from a “” email address.
  • Can’t speak on the phone? That’s a red flag.
  • Can’t receive packages from a U.S. or APO mailing address? Most likely a lie.
  • Be wary of men who pledge their undying devotion after a couple of emails. Troops overseas are lonely. They ain’t that lonely!
  • Check with a veteran. If you aren’t a veteran, get someone with recent active-duty military experience to check the individual out. Military members have resources, such as the AKO white pages features, to check out other military members.
  • Don’t mail anything of value to Africa if you don’t already know the individual from his time in the U.S.

Understand that you can report these criminals to the FBI, CID, and the Federal Trade Commission. But chances of recovering any money you send to an address in Ghana or Nigeria is almost nil.

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