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 its ok I’ll meet with 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. These are just some of the top signs that you are suffering from a military romance scam.
What is a Military Romance Scam?
A military romance scam is when a scammer steals someone’s pictures that are either from the military or wearing a uniform, then state they are in the military themselves. They pretend to fall in love with you and say anything they could to gain your trust, usually going off of a scammer’s playbook. Once they gain your trust, they use the military as an excuse to ask for tons of money. Some of these excuses range from “I need to pay to come back home,” “I need food while I’m fighting for the country,” “I need money for medical expenses after being injured in combat,” and “I lost my weapon and I need to pay for a new one so I don’t get kicked out of the military.”
They also say that they are in the military as an excuse to not come and see you. They figure that if their victim thinks they are overseas, they won’t ask to meet with them in person. They can also use this as an excuse to not video chat with you, since they supposedly don’t have wifi or service where they are stationed. However, nowadays with modern technology, military soldiers do have wifi of some sort when they are stationed overseas.
People That Have Had Their Pictures Stolen by Scammers
Alessandro Cinquini is a social media influencer on Instagram and a first officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. He got popular on social media for posting photos of him traveling across the world as he worked for the cruise line. As he gained 10,000 followers, scammers started to steal his photos and pretended to be him as they lured girls into their scam trap.
Since then, he’s gotten thousands of messages a year averaging to about 5-10 messages a day from girls who have been tricked with his photos. There have been girls simply letting him know that his images were being used, and others that have accused him of being a scammer himself.
He’s seen about 10 new accounts with his images on the profiles created a day. He tries to report them, but they keep on popping up on Instagram. He’s almost had his account blocked by scammers, but Scam Haters United has stepped in and helped him get his account back.
Even though Alessandro is not in the military, there have been many scammers that pretend that his cruise lines uniform is actually a military uniform. They tell their victims they are from the military, and get away with it all because of Alessandro’s uniform.
When asked why he thinks scammers choose to steal pictures from servicemen to scam people, and why he thinks he’s a target, Alessandro had a lot of insight.
“It’s easy to create a story about our life, and also a main factor to maintain distance in the ‘fake relationship,’” he stated.
Terry Sorrells is an active-duty first sergeant logistics specialist in the army who is a brand ambassador for Military Fresh. He is an influencer to his many Instagram followers, which has also made him famous in the Catfishing world. Scammers have made thousands of fake profiles based on Terry’s photos, targeting thousands of women’s wallets and even some gay men’s wallets. We estimated that $1,000,000 was made off of the fake profiles scamming these innocent victims.
Scammers use military men’s profiles all the time when they create fake profiles. This allows for the scammer to pretend they are deployed in another country so that the women they are talking to never ask to meet in person. They also know that a lot of women are attracted to and go after military men, meaning that women will rarely say “no” when it comes to giving them a chance at online dating.
Terry’s advice to those who are looking into online dating is to pay attention to the story the scammer tells you. A military man is able to call you and video chat with you using their cell phones. They have access to Wi-Fi and the military pays for them to get deployed to wherever the military says. If someone is telling you otherwise, then they aren’t really in the military and are just looking to catfish you.
Why Scammers Choose Pictures of Men in Uniforms
Scammers choose pictures of men in uniforms as a sign of proof that they are in the military like they proclaim. They pretend that the person in the pictures is them, and since the man in the photo has a uniform on, the victim thinks its actually them wearing the uniform. Since the victim sees multiple pictures of them, they assume the scammer is telling them the truth and has no reason not to believe them.
Signs That You are in a Military Romance Scam
- They send you a photo of their Military ID or badge. Real military personnel would know that a military ID is a personal thing that you’re not supposed to just send to random people, kind of like your driver’s license.
- They tell you they can’t get home without money. The military pays for its soldiers’ travel bills, so when they ask for money to get home it’s more than likely a scammer.
- They tell you they can’t afford their meals. Another lie! The military pays for their meals as well, so if someone uses this as an excuse they are definitely a scammer.
- They tell you they need help paying for medical bills. Again… this is another lie. The military takes care of all medical bills if their soldiers are wounded on the battlefield.
- They tell you they need help paying for a weapon. All the lies! The military will punish you, but they won’t kick you out of the military if you lose a weapon.
- They never want to video chat you. They claim its because of the wifi, but each military personnel has access to the Internet of some sort. They are still able to video chat with their loved ones back home.
- They want you to wire money to them or someone else. Only a scammer would want money wired to them, so that there is no possible way to trace the money back and get it back.
- Their social media profiles aren’t as active. This usually means that they aren’t really the person their profile claims to be.
How to Avoid Military Romance Scammers
- Avoid sending money to anyone you met on the Internet.
- Don’t provide any of your personal information to anyone.
- Video chat with the person you are talking to before pursuing a serious relationship with them.
- Block the person you suspect is trying to romance scam you.
- Be wary of anyone that wants to rush the relationship with you.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You With Your Military Romance Scam!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of military romance scams.