At Social Catfish, we speak to a man named Nicholas who got into his first relationship with a scammer. He met her on Say Hi then transferred the conversation onto WhatsApp where they communicated with one another for seven months. She started asking for money so that she could eat, but it was all in the form of gift cards! Nicholas knew something was off and started investigating immediately. He reached out to Social Catfish to share his experience in dealing with a military romance scam.
What Is The Story of Nicholas’ Romance Scammer?
One day, Nicholas was bored sitting on his bed wondering what he could do. He went onto the App Store and downloaded a chat app called Say Hi. He started scrolling through the app and found a woman named Clara who he thought was super beautiful. He decided to reach out and start up a conversation with her.
She claimed to be in the military stationed in Iowa. She stated that she needed to pay off her military clearance before she could meet Nicholas in person. She also claimed that she has a bank account that she can’t access until she’s married.
One Thanksgiving night, she told Nicholas that in order to stay together, she needed an Amazon gift card. Thinking that she was real since she sent him a bunch of pictures, he agreed to help her out by sending her an Amazon gift card. After he was done sending her the gift card, he thought that would be the last time and that it would never happen again.
Then right before New Year’s Day, Clara was claiming that she needed another Amazon gift card since she was starving and needed food. Nicholas wondered what happened to everyone else, and she claimed that she was all alone. Nicholas had already sent her more money before this, and he felt weird sending her even more.
The scammer then pretended to be a military commander and guilt-tripped Nicholas, claiming that he needed to help Clara so that she could see him. By March, most of the love for Clara stopped since she kept asking him for gift cards for various emergency reasons. He eventually left her for asking for money too many times, and will never forget what he went through
What Are Military Romance Scams?
Imagine going onto a dating app and meeting someone online that you really connect with. You talk to this same person for a year and get to know more and more about them as you start to fall in love with them. As you get to know them they make excuses as to why they can’t video chat with you or meet you in person, and it’s usually because they are on leave. You think to yourself, “It’s ok I’ll meet my true love soon.” Then suddenly, they constantly start to end up in emergency situations where they need your constant help financially to get out of them. Your bank account starts to drain, and you wonder if you can even afford to stay in the relationship you’re currently in.
Romance scammers love to be able to stress you out. They put you in situations that make you feel bad for them to the point you feel like you have to help them. On top of that, being a soldier is one of the most respected jobs there is. You know how much they are sacrificing so internally, you feel that you owe them something. That is why so often you hear stories of catfish claiming they are a soldier stuck overseas. Or that they need money to get out of where they are currently stationed. Even going as far as claiming that they need help feeding their kids back home.
They use their inability to leave where they are stationed as a pressure point to make you feel bad and ultimately send them money. On top of that, being in the military is often an ever-changing job. They don’t control what they are doing, where they are going, or how long they will be somewhere. So it is extremely easy for a romance scammer to claim they can’t talk to you on the phone or video chat with you because they are out in the field. Millions of people fall for a romance scam each day as scammers rack in millions of dollars just by stealing photos of innocent military men and pretending to be them. Each day, more and more people find out that their online lover is actually a Nigerian romance scammer.
How Do We Know That Nicholas Was A Victim of a Military Romance Scam?
Clara suggests that she needed Nicholas to pay for her military clearance so that she could see him. Military clearance is when the military investigates their soldiers to determine whether or not they are eligible to receive classified information. Usually, a soldier requests a military clearance for a new job or assignment. Then, they wait 60 days as an investigation is conducted on the specific soldier. This investigation consists of credit checks and examining national records. The military will complete this process for free and do not charge any fees to their soldiers. Therefore, we can conclude that Clara is lying with this excuse.
Clara claimed that she needed Amazon gift cards so that she could eat at the mess hall. According to the FTC, there was a 70% increase in reports of gift cards being used to send money to romance scammers. This is due to the fact that gift cards are untraceable methods of payment, making it unlikely for victims to get their money back. Along with this, she can’t purchase food with the gift cards Nicholas is sending her. Gift cards can not be used to purchase anything on a military base or store. Instead, scammers sell them on third-party websites to make 80% of their profit back. For example, if a victim sends $100 dollars in gift cards, a scammer can make $80 back in cash. If someone tells you to pay them in gift cards, block them immediately since they are most likely a romance scammer.
Clara claimed that she didn’t have health insurance to help cover her medical expenses. The military makes sure that all its members are taken care of. They provide them with health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance called Tricare at a cheap price or no cost. Copays are also listed at low prices for military members. If Clara were really in the military, she would have doctor’s appointments covered at barely any additional cost and would be able to afford it with her military pay.
How to Avoid Military Romance Scams
- Don’t give money to someone on the Internet that you’ve never met in person.
- Don’t give out your personal information to someone that you are talking to online.
- If someone is moving the relationship super fast, be cautious by slowing the relationship down.
- Don’t get too serious with someone without at least video chatting with them or meeting them in person first.
- A HUGE sign of a military romance scam since they usually use this as an excuse to not see you or video chat with you.
- If someone is randomly contacting you out-of-the-blue on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter this usually means they are a romance scammer.
- Report any scam that you’ve been a part of to the FTC, IC3, and FBI.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
If you think you’re dealing with a military romance scam or have had your pictures stolen, Social Catfish is here to help you!
If you want to be a part of our next YouTube video or blog post and share your story, now is your chance. You can educate our audience about what you have gone through and make sure no one else goes through the same thing. All you need to do is email ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com, and we will get back to you with more details.
You can also reverse search any information you have on the Nigerian romance scammer to see who it is you’ve really been talking to. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image you can search it up in our search bar to see if there is more information on the suspected scammer you are talking to.