An internet search for Mike Sency’s name immediately yields hundreds of accounts spread across social media and dating websites. Many of the profiles contain small differences, such as the photos used, the spelling of his name, even various details about his hobbies and interests. But they all share one common trait: They’re fake. Sency is used to it. For years, pictures he posted online have been used to create fake profiles by people looking to scam others, often out of money, a practice generally known as catfishing. His problem isn’t a new one, but it is an issue that has proven nearly impossible to stop.
Here’s how to know if you’re being catfished by a fake military member
The FBI is advising consumers to be wary when using online dating sites after the agency saw a 70 percent annual increase in reported romance scams. Cybercriminals are reportedly using online dating sites to trick victims into sending money, providing personal and financial information, or even unknowingly acting as a money mule by relaying stolen funds. Learn these tips for keeping yourself—and your financial accounts—better protected when meeting people online.
Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives a victim into believing they have a trusted relationship and then uses the relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator. The initial grooming phase can last for days, weeks, or even months , and by that time, the victim may be extremely vulnerable to the scam.
Military romance scams are used to con women out of thousands. Discover the I met a sergeant in the Army on Facebook from the Zoosk dating site. We have.
On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few.
Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts. For months or weeks, they try to seduce the women with sweet talk and promises of a future together. Eventually, they ask for money. When victims send funds, they often do so via wire transfers or iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which the scammers sell at a discount on the black market.
Internet scammers arrived with the dial-up modem years ago, conning people in chat rooms and email inboxes. Now Facebook and Instagram provide fraudsters with greater reach and resources, enabling them to more convincingly impersonate others and more precisely target victims. Officials from the United States military and the F. When The Times followed the trail of one scam, it led to Nigeria, where six men said in interviews that they swindled Westerners over the internet because it paid far more than honest work, which they said was hard to find.
In Nigeria, the scammers are aided by plentiful internet access and fluency in English. There are also many willing teachers: In groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, they swap scripts for online chats with victims.
Military Scams | Common Tricks & How to Avoid Them
These kinds of scams involve scammers exploiting a victim’s emotions to gain trust and make off with their money. The warning came out on the same day developers for online dating apps said they noticed an increase in users. The day was called “Dating Sunday. So, what is the difference between online romance scams and other kinds of scams? Murugan said potential victims may not recognize the “red flags” that would give away other online scams.
A New Jersey man is accused of using dating websites to scam women out of $m (£m) while claiming to be a US soldier stationed.
AARP Rewards is here to make your next steps easy, rewarding and fun! Learn more. Hundreds of times a day, women here and overseas complain about being scammed by con artists posing as U. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Grey has made it a personal crusade to warn the public about the online scams that are using men in uniform as bait to reel in women who hand over cash in the name of love. Most of the victims are women in the U. The 2,person command Grey serves is in Quantico, Va.
Thus it lacks jurisdiction to probe the barrage of incoming calls, since the service personnel are not victimized beyond having their names and photos misappropriated.
This Army Veteran Became The Face Of Military Romance Scams. Now He’s Fighting Back
Attorney Craig Carpenito. The following details from this case were taken from court documents and statements:. The most common story used by Sarpong and his conspirators was that they were military personnel stationed in Syria who were awarded gold bars.
Embassy Kabul frequently receives inquiries from people who have been victimized by Internet scammers. These scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money by developing a friendship, romance or business partnership online, and then exploiting that relationship to ask for money. The most common scam we see involves calls, texts, or social media messages Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, dating apps, etc from a person claiming be a U. Armed Forces, a military contractor, a U.
Embassy diplomat, or an employee of an international aid organization. These con artists are very convincing and troll the Internet for potential victims, spending weeks or months to build a relationship. Scammers can be very clever and deceptive, creating sad and believable stories that will make you want to send them money. After the person receives the money, they disappear and do not respond to messages.
The U. Embassy strongly cautions against sending money to persons whom you have not met personally prior to their purported travel to Afghanistan. For actual emergencies involving a U.
Zoosk Fights Online Romance Scams with Military Verification
Military combat isn’t the only battle service members are fighting. Those were the findings of a recent data analysis by Comparitech. The consumer technology website analyzed scam data through the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.
Romance scams, where fraudsters target deployed military personnel or soldiers on dating sites and then sweet talk victims out of their cash.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.
They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging. They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas.
They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature. Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency.
5 Ways to spot an online-dating scammer
Romance scams are big business. Sadly, 82 percent of romance scam victims are women, and women over 50 are defrauded out of the most money. Fraud like this involves emotional betrayal that can be even more painful when the scammer poses as a member of the military. While many romance scams are perpetrated from social sites like Facebook, online dating sites are a direct route for these scammers to reach their most vulnerable targets.
Zoosk , a global dating community with 40 million online profiles, saw the pain this was causing its customers and decided to tackle the problem head-on by launching Insignia , a program that fights back against military romance scams through military verification and increased awareness. Zoosk members who are in the military can earn the Insignia badge by having their pictures verified and submitting their branch of service and driver license information.
By Katie Lange, Defense. Military experts are constantly warning service members about social media scams that can affect them and their families. Military crime experts continue to warn service members to be on the lookout for social media scams in which cybercriminals impersonate service members by using actual and fictitious information for romance scams and other impersonation crimes such as sales schemes and advance fee schemes.
Scammers attempt to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets. Romance scams. In April, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers. It’s a problem that’s affecting all branches of service — not just the Army. CID said there have been hundreds of claims each month from people who said they’ve been scammed on legitimate dating apps and social media sites.
According to the alleged victims, the scammers have asked for money for fake service-related needs such as transportation, communications fees, processing and medical fees — even marriage. CID said many of the victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars and likely will not get that money back. Remember, service members and government employees do not pay to go on leave, have their personal effects sent home or fly back to the U.