You are talking with who you believe is a soldier online. Things seem to be going well. He seems to be falling fast, and, in return, you are as well.
But something doesn’t quite seem right.
Sometimes that can be the language they use from a grammatical perspective where it seems like English may not be their first language.
Sometimes it can be what they’re asking you to do for them or send to them that involves you either buying things or sending money.
And sometimes, it can be the sheer amount of bad luck this one person seems to have encountered in their life.
The Stories Are Dramatic
The scammer will try to establish an emotional connection and gain your sympathy by telling some sad sob stories along the way.
These generally are around things like his wife was killed in a car accident or died after an extended illness. Or his parents died when he was young, and he grew up as an orphan with no actual adult figures in his life. Or a tragic accident has happened to his children.
In a handful of cases, I’ve seen where they have combined all of these stories to create the saddest life possible.
While any of these situations could happen, there is an overwhelming number of scammers using these stories as their go-to.
The sob story often forms with the plot they need to devise to make it believable why they need you to send financial assistance.
For instance, I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me about the scammer having lost his wife to some tragic circumstance.
Now, his child is in boarding school (usually in Europe) while he is deployed. There’s a medical issue, and he can’t access his bank account. Can’t you please help him to save his child’s life?
Many times, when the victim contacts me, they already sent money to the scammer. They reasoned they are helping a poor defenseless child who has already lost their mother.
In some cases, the scammer has even employed others’ help to make the scam seem more believable.
They may have someone else appear to reach out via email with additional information on the situation. Or they will have someone actually call to express how dire the situation is.
Here’s the real deal.
A Soldier’s Paycheck
Minus a government shutdown, soldiers are getting their paychecks.
First, soldiers are always paid while they are on duty. In fact, while they are deployed, they are paid more with additional allowances they receive only while deployed.
Plus, certain parts of their pay are no longer taxable, resulting in an even larger paycheck.
In addition to that, single soldiers generally don’t have to maintain a home in the states while deployed (they either live in the barracks or break the lease on their rental property when they deploy).
So, in addition to an increase in income, there are no expenses associated with it.
Second, military families aren’t often sending their kids off to boarding school, and certainly not in Europe. And especially in this type of situation.
So the child has supposedly lost their mother in some tragic accident, and the dad decides to send them off to a foreign country to attend boarding school? Are you kidding me?
Third, military dependents (the soldier, spouse, and children) are covered by Tricare medical insurance. This is amazing medical insurance with no deductible and very low co-pays.
To give you an idea, I think my 4-day stint in the hospital to have my son (a c-section with complications) ended up resulting in a $25 bill.
If there were any medical emergency with the soldier’s child, they would be covered under Tricare. And if they’re seen on post, they may not even have the minimal co-pays. So the idea that you should be sending thousands of dollars to them to save the child’s life is crazy.
Another twist that may come up in this story is that the medical care is covered, but they need to return home from deployment to be with their child. According to them, the only way to do that is to pay for the flight out of their own pocket.
Since they don’t have the money to do that or, for some reason, don’t have access to their bank account (also a lie), they need you to send them the money.
Flights to and from a deployment zone, including in a situation like this, are covered by the military. It’s not like you call Delta and book yourself a flight out of Baghdad or Bagram. Not to mention that the military isn’t flying civilian airlines in and out of deployment zones.
I would venture to guess that much of the military doesn’t even have a passport at all as they’re deploying to different countries worldwide. And even if they do, it’s not part of the packing list for the deployment.
Without a passport, civilian air travel between countries would be impossible. Soldiers fly to and from on military flights.
This includes the initial flight to begin the deployment, any R&R (rest and relaxation), emergency travel, and return flight home from deployment. There is never a charge for the flight. Ever.
So there’s the true scoop on these sob stories. Let’s recap:
1 – They are making more deployed than they were at home. So why do they need your money?
2 – Soldiers generally aren’t shipping their kids off to boarding school in Europe (or any other country).
3 – The soldier’s family is covered under Tricare medical insurance, so there’s no reason for you to pay for medical bills.
4 – Soldiers never pay for a flight to/from a deployment zone, regardless of the flight reason.
The bottom line is this – there is never any reason, no matter what the excuse may be, to send money to a soldier you met online. Regardless of the sob story they may tell you or how hard their life seems to have been, do not send them money.
Have you encountered a scammer using these types of tactics to play on your sympathies? Share your story below or reach out to me on Facebook.