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Bogus US soldiers – Romance scam

27th September 2010

Fraudsters posing as US soldiers on dating websites have been targeting British women to con them out of money.

The fraudsters often take the name and rank of a US soldier who is serving with the Army and use photos of soldiers taken from the internet, including from genuine profiles on social networking websites.

How does the US soldier romance scam work?

After building up an online relationship with their victim, the fraudsters make a request for money. They often say that they have found themselves in a difficult or emergency situation, putting them in a serious financial position. Once the victim has paid some money once, more requests for money come in. The fraudster may say they are a single parent and need money for the child, they might say they have medical bills to pay or they are being detained in military prison and need money to get out.

Some fraudsters have also said they need to purchase special laptops, international telephones and transport fees to be used by the soldier when they are deployed to Afghanistan, or elsewhere overseas. There have also been reports of fraudsters asking for money to purchase ‘leave papers’ from the Army, or for financial help for flights home so they can leave a war zone. Many of these requests do not match up to how the US Army operates.

The US Embassy in London is issuing the following advice:

  • if you do start an internet-based relationship with someone, check them out, research what they are telling you with someone who would know, such as a current or former service member
  • be very suspicious if you never get to actually speak to a person on the phone or are told you cannot write to them. Servicemen or women serving abroad will often have an Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) mailing address
  • be extremely suspicious if you are asked for any money by the person
  • fraudsters often make negative claims made about the military and the lack of support and services they are provided with. These are often untrue – check the facts
  • look out for spelling, grammatical or language errors in the emails. The fraudsters are often non-native English speakers

Read more about US soldier romance scams on the US Embassy in London’s website.  

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To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.