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Soldier or Scam Artist?

February 2011

Women around the world are falling victim to a scam where the person pretends to be a U.S. military soldier. After a certain level of trust and communication has been established, the “soldier” asks for money to establish a phone connection or to return home for R&R leave.

These requests are often in the thousands of dollars and seem very legitimate to those who are not familiar with how the military system works. It seems perfectly logical to a civilian that a military member would have to pay for a flight for his R&R or that he may have to pay for his phone calls overseas. However, as soon as the money is spent, women either receive additional requests for money or he disappears from their lives completely.

Some women have had to deal with even more dire circumstances. If the request for money is refused, some of these people will retaliate with threatening communication insinuating that harm will be done to their family members. Many times, these women have shared information about where they live, their children and other family members creating a difficult situation.

If you have been approached by one of these scammers, it is important to contact your local law enforcement. While there is little chance of recovering funds, it is still important that law enforcement officials have this information reported to them for tracking purposes.

In many cases, TS2, a legitimate satellite phone company, is named as the telephone service provider in the scam. On their website, they have created a page with information on the scam including emails they have received from those who have been scammed. In addition, they also offer tips on how to see through these scam emails.

Tips to Avoid Being Scammed
First, every U.S. soldier has a military email address that includes their branch of service. Ask them to email you from this email address which should be similar to FirstName.LastName@us.army.mil.

Second, when dealing with anyone or any site online, personal information should be protected. Rather than providing the name of the city where you live, give the region. Instead of giving the name of the company where you work, just provide the industry.

Third, military members will not request money. They don’t need satellite phones and their R&R airfare is paid for by the military. Never send money through Western Union or other wire transfer service to anyone you meet online.

Remember, there is no such thing as being too careful when speaking to others online. Protect your personal information and verify before conducting any financial transactions.
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