Imagine showing up to work and sitting at your desk, conversing with your coworkers, and then talking to people on social media. Seems like a normal job right? Except your goal is to catfish them using someone else’s pictures, usually as a military catfish, steal their life savings, and then never talk to them again once you’ve drained their bank account. This is what everyday life looks like for a romance scammer, and they won’t stop until they suck every penny out of you.
These scammers happened to target Terry, an active-duty first sergeant logistics specialist in the army, and his kids, pretending to be him as a military catfish using his pictures. They told their victims that his wife died in a terrible car accident to make them feel sorry for him and gain their trust. Making their victims feel bad is just a typical red flag they use every day to reel you in, gain your trust, and eventually give them your life savings thinking you’re helping them out.
We interviewed Terry to get a better insight into how it feels to have your pictures stolen by military catfish and how their victims have handled the situation. He has been deployed five times and took on many leadership roles while he was serving. He is currently an influencer and brand manager for the company, Military Fresh. Terry might not be a household name but is famous in the Catfishing world. He has over 300 fake profiles across the web, and we estimate that $1,000,000 is made each year due to romance scammers using his many pictures to scam their victims.
His responses to our questions are listed down below:
How Has Having Your Pictures Stolen by Military Catfish Been for You?
It’s been a struggle, man. I wanted my platform to be positive, inspirational, motivational. I had been working towards that for a couple of years. As it started to progress and started to take off, I was hit with messages saying, “I don’t know if you know this or not, but someone is using your pictures to scam people,” and, “Someone’s trying to get $2,000 out of me,” and it just kept going from there.
Did You Brush it Off the First Time? What Was That Like?
The first time I heard about it I just kind of shrugged it off. Then I found the fake profile and blocked it so they couldn’t take any more of my pictures. And I thought that was the end of it. Then more and more people started to contact me and it became a daily thing. It started to make me angry. Here I am trying to build a good name for myself with the military and the Military Fresh Network and push positivity. Then I see some of these profiles and they had copied down my bio from my profile to the tee.
How Did Your Wife Deal With It At the Time?
She’s not a fan of social media. She came across one person that sent her a message saying, “Your husband is trying to get with me. Here are his Instagram pictures and his profile. And this is where he hit me up from. It was on Google Hangouts.”
How Have the Victims Reacted When They Found Out You Weren’t the Actual Person Talking to Them, and Instead it Was a Military Catfish?
A lot of women have been so into these relationships that they thought, “Well, maybe I can just pick up with him where I left off with this other person.” They have been so invested in these relationships and they want it to continue since they know the real person. I had to start not allowing them to be friends with me, and some of them I had to block because they hit me up saying, “Good morning babe, how are you doing babe?” I had to respond with “I’m sorry but I’m not your babe, we don’t know each other like that.”
I’ve even had gay men hit me up saying, “Hey, I don’t know if you know this or not but there’s a guy on this dating site I’m on that is using your images. You wouldn’t happen to be gay, are you?” to which I respond, “No, sorry I’m not but thanks for telling me.”
While I was stationed at Fort Hood, I was at the gym and a girl saw me and approached me saying, “Hey, did you get my message?” I told her, “I don’t know you,” to which she replied, “You don’t know me?” I said, “No, I think you’ve been catfished.” I pulled out my phone and showed her the hundreds of fake profiles that stole my image. She said, “Aw man, I’m so sorry.”
One of the craziest stories dealing with this was when I had a woman contact me on Facebook messenger saying that she was supposed to get married to me. She had been talking to someone that said they were me for about eight or nine months. They had made plans to get married, she had bought a ring, she did everything in preparation for this guy to come from his deployment in Syria. They were then going to get married and start their lives apparently.
Do You Still Recieve the Messages, and How Do You Feel About Them?
It does get irritating and frustrating to hear it on a daily basis. I still get the messages.
What Advice Would You Give Someone so That They Can Avoid Being Scammed By a Military Catfish?
There’s no soldier in the military no branch that can not call you. Every soldier has a phone, they have WiFi there, so there’s no excuse. If the military wants you to go somewhere, they will make sure it happens. They don’t make you buy your own tickets, they don’t do any of that.
There’s a Specific Scam Group That Said That All Members of the Military Should Have Private Accounts, Do You Agree With That?
To me, it’s unfair that just because you have a specific job or a specific title that you have to make your account private. It should be your choice. Military members should at least be certified as a precaution for them that if someone is looking for you and you don’t have that little blue or green checkmark to be wary. I believe that their reporting procedures are done through an algorithm and not a live person. If I report someone saying that they’re impersonating me, the live person can look at my profile then look at the fake profile and say, “Yes, that’s definitely a fake profile.” A computer can’t tell the difference. But as much money as they make, I think they can afford together a team or a branch of their company where their only job is to verify accounts, delete fake accounts, etc.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
If you would like to share your story with us and have a chance to be featured on our YouTube channel, Catfished, and blog, please email us at ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com. This will give you a chance to educate our audience about the experiences you have gone through in case they are going through something similar or to help them avoid scams entirely.
If you feel like you’ve been talking to someone with a fake profile, such as a military catfish, but aren’t 100% sure they are a scammer, Social Catfish is here to help you figure that out! All we need to perform a reverse search is either a name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image to see who you’ve really been talking to. If it’s a scammer, we can figure out who is really behind the scam so that you can take it to local authorities if you need to, and if the information is accurate and leads to them not being a scammer you now have peace of mind that you are talking to a legit person.
Even if you are dead set that the person you are talking to online is who they say they are but you haven’t video chatted with them or seen them in person, we can still help you make sure you are talking to a real person instead of a military catfish and save your bank account. Let us help you today.