When most people reach out to me about possibly being involved in a military romance scam, they ask about sending me pictures to tell them if the soldier is real.
The answer from me is always the same. Yes, send me any pictures that you can. This can help to identify who the real soldier is. But in no way is this the person you have been communicating with all this time.
Where They Get Pictures of Soldiers
This is one place in particular where social media has been disastrous. Many, many people have their social media profiles set to public.
Even if they have it marked as private, their profile picture is generally still public.
If you’re one of those who change out their profile picture often, you could have multiple images set for public access even within a private profile simply because it used to be the profile picture.
A quick Google image search can reveal the pictures of thousands upon thousands of soldiers.
Within those pictures is the link to where the photo is from, and generally, it’s from their social media profiles, news articles, or, in some cases, the military itself.
It’s effortless to download the pictures and assume the identity of the person within that picture.
When you meet someone online, and they share photos, especially if it’s multiple, you have no reason to believe it’s not that person.
How the Scams Have Changed Over Time
In the very beginning, when people were reaching out to me in the early 2000s about these scams, the pictures used were not soldiers. It would sometimes be who I assume is the scammer himself.
He would have on what appeared to be a military uniform and posing in different scenarios. To a civilian without any military knowledge, the pictures would appear to be legitimate.
For the person with military knowledge, one look at the picture and you knew something was wrong.
There would be things such as U.S. Army badges on an Air Force uniform. They would be wearing the uniform of one branch and the unit insignia of another branch.
It was undeniable in one glance that it was more of someone attempting to play dress-up than it was an actual soldier.
As social media grew in popularity, it slowly changed over to using pictures of real soldiers.
As I described, they would find public social media profiles and download multiple images to be used to create their story and new identity online.
Why I Don’t Post the Pictures Online
I do my best to prevent these soldier’s pictures from being posted online, whether it’s through the website or social media channels.
This infuriates many, as they want him vilified on a public stage for scamming them.
The truth is, the soldier in the pictures is as much of a victim as the person who has their money stolen. He is not a part of the scam and has no idea his pictures are being used in that manner.
The victim is often adamant that they are going to make sure this person pays. And I get it.
If someone managed to swindle me out of thousands of dollars, I would want my revenge as well.
But the person in the pictures isn’t who did it.
While their pictures may be used repeatedly in scams with different people, I don’t post them online because the person in the picture is innocent.
Send me pictures of the actual scammer, and I will gladly blast those out to every possible channel that I have.
But until that happens, I won’t destroy the life of a true soldier who just happened to have his pictures stolen to be used in this way.
Why You Shouldn’t Post the Pictures Either
In that same vein, I’m asking you not to blast out the pictures of the real soldier as the person who scammed you in some way.
I’ve seen this happen too many times when a completely innocent person who is oblivious to the situation is then put in the position to defend himself against people who are now doing their best to make the scammer pay.
In some cases, the soldier’s chain of command was contacted, and they have had to go through formal investigations for something they do not know of.
It’s incredibly unfair these scammers are out there parting honest and trusting people of their hard-earned money.
It’s more unfair a soldier honorably serving his country, with no knowledge of the scam, is also being publicly victimized.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Have you been the victim of a scam? Please share your story below or join us on our social media channels.
19 thoughts on “The Reason We Don’t Share Pictures of Soldiers Used in Scams”
I got a friends request from a person who says he is in the military and deployed in Syria. We chat spoke on the phone but he doesn’t sound like he’s an American .now he has been asking for me to buy him steam wallets .which I haven’t done .he says he loves me and all the usually things he says he is a captain in the army his name is mark hannett I did find his picture on a military scammers web site but not sure if he was the victim or he’s the scammer I have pictures of him I can send you .
Dear Stacey, I have been emailing with a Staff Sergeant JUSTIN WOOD in the Army that is in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is at Camp Black Horse, Bravo Company. Here is the actual text in the email he sent me back on May 11th.
My love I am doing all I can to provide answers to all your questions so I can end your doubts and give you confidence to relax and wait for my return, I am in love with you and you are the best thing that ever happened to my life after the death of my wife, the name of my camp here in Afghanistan is Camp Black horse, the name of my troop is Bravo Company, I live at Building C-5728 Fort Bragg, NC 28307, USA , I live at the military base apartments inside the Fort Bragg , I am also going share my location on phone so you can see where I am writing you from, I have giving you enough information that is enough to help you to stay strong and wait for my return back home
He never share his location on his phone. but he has sent me pictures. I can send to you once you view my email here. PLEASE I NEED TO KNOW IF THIS GUY FOR REAL. AND YES I HAVE SENT MONEY. BY BAD I KNOW
LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING BACK FORM YOU SOON
I should start by adding – that im danish, living in denmark.
I was contacted by a female sgt on “Peace Keeping Mission In syria”. Additionally, her contact info listed her as muslim, and all the pictures showed the same woman, some beeing in civilian clothingher w her child. Some beeing of her in uniform w the same child. No doubt the pictures was real, but i bet not of the person that was communicating w me.
The first thing that stroke me as odd, was she was never really answering any of my questions nor commenenting on what i wrote. The next odd thing was when she after just a few days – after just a few short messages pr day, suddenly started to send kisses, and started to call me darling. Im no expert in US woman, or Muslim’s, but to call someone u only written w through Facebook Dating (later whatsapp) – darling, honey etc, without even talking to them, was a large warning sign. Suddenly, she wanted to visit me, and had convienently 5 days leave at the same time as my vaccation.. could i pick her up at the airport.. This was where i was starting to expect her to ask for money, but.. instead she keept refering to she had alot of luggage, and she was gonna send most of it to my home, by having a US Freight Pilot dropping it off to a civilian courier somewhere, that then would take it to my home. This is where it soo ridicilous i reported her, and blocked her.
First off – i dont know how much luggage ppl usually bring w them on a mission – but beeing a former soldier my self – 90% of it is army related, its not civilian stuff you just send left and right.. youre responsible for it, u dont just send it off to stranger’s.. second was.. exactly how much civilian stuff would u bring w u, where u sent to a peace keeping mission in syria as a soldier? – Where i imagine most free time are spent on a base, not really outside – thus the need for civilian clothing would be minimum. And then there the obvious one.. who sends theyre personal OR army belongings to a person they only written with for a week on Facebook Dating/Whatsapp..
In hindsight, i think the next thing that would come from her – and this is where money would gotten involved – that her stuff had arrived at this.. “mysterious civilian courier”, but he wanted money in advance to bring it.. Then maybe more money so it could clear customes.. and so on and so forth.. (the “old” – there is a letter/package waiting for u, but u have to pay to get it released scam or a variation of it.).
Either way, haven read up on alot of scam and scam techniques, the things that really had me blindsided for a while (a short while) – was it was supposedly a Muslim US Soldier on a mission. Sounded too real life and admirable so to speak that there was a chanse this was actually a real person.. In the end just to confirm my suspecion i reached out to the US Embassy in denmark which could confirm that the number given was not where it claimed to be, and had infact been searched for over 200 times by various persons in the 3 months the number had existed. Definetly a scam.
Still wouldnt mind meeting the real person behind the pictures, but such is life 😐
A scammer recently approached me on Instagram by the name of Philip Brian and followed me. His profile picture is him with a boy. I asked him how he found my profile because it’s very hard to get followers! He replied that he was looking for an old friend and found my profile to be very attractive. My gut was telling me something is not right. I have no friends from the military. I continue speaking to him because he was very handsome and I just broke up with someone. I could not resist the temptation.
He told me to use Google Hangouts because he cannot continue on Instagram due to work reasons. He quickly un-followed me on Instagram. We chat on Google Hangouts for 4 days. He was very consistent with the time he replied back. He said he is a sergeant in Iraq, spends his time patrolling villages to keep the people safe from terrorists, his wife passed away 5 years ago from pancreatic problems, and his 9 year old son is in a boarding school in upstate NY. He also told me he will be retiring in 2 months. He is half British and half American who inherited 2 houses from his late British mother in Liverpool and has his own house in Atlanta, Georgia. He lost both parents in a very tragic accident when he was 17 and his grandmother raised him. He joined the US Army at age 19 and then his grandmother passed away when he was 23. He send me different pictures. I feel it is not the same soldier in all the pictures. I think he used more than one soldier who has similar physical features.
I finally told my friend about him and she quickly warned me that it’s a scam. She had experience with this because she used Facebook Dating. I confronted him by saying I don’t want to waste his or my time and to prove that he is really the man in the picture. He said the best way is for him to meet me in person. I answered “do you want me to send you money so we can see each other?” He replied why would I think like that and he’s ashamed if he needs to ask me for money. He kept insisting the only way is for us to meet. I had enough. I blocked him on Google hangouts and I noticed that his Instagram page suddenly disappear after I confronted him.
I want to send you the pictures of the soldier/soldiers he used. Please warn them that someone is using their pictures for military romance scams. I spoke with “him” for only 4 days before I disconnected. I’m glad my friend told me because I was really falling for him. I feel very scared about social media. I was never looking for someone online and this happened.
Thank you for reading this.
I hope to hear from you.