Did you meet a soldier online?
Has he seemingly fallen head over heels in love with you in a very short amount of time?
Is there something in your gut making you question if this is truly real?
Are you trying to figure out if it’s a real soldier?
Trust Your Gut: If You Are Questioning If It’s a Scam, It Probably Is
The first thing I will say to you is to trust your gut. Whether you call it your gut or your intuition, it will rarely lead you astray.
If your gut is telling you something is off, then it probably is.
I have been helping people who were victims of these romance scams for more than a decade. Not one single time has someone reached out to me who it turned out was actually dating a soldier.
Out of thousands of emails, blog comments over at Married to the Army, and Facebook messages, it’s always a scam.
Each of these people knew deep down that the person they were involved with was a scammer. Some believed the person they were dating was indeed in the military (they’re not) but ultimately still knew something wasn’t right.
#1 Way To Verify He’s Real: Ask For His Military Email Address
If you’re questioning the person you met online who is claiming to be a soldier, there is one definite way to know for sure.
Ask for his military email address.
Every soldier has an official military email address. This email address will end in mail.mil.
Many times when you ask for this, the excuses will begin. Let’s break down each excuse and why it’s yet another lie the person tells you.
Excuse #1: It’s a Security Risk
He may tell very tall tales about how it’s a security risk and a threat to provide you with this email address.
Now, let’s think about this. This person has generally shared pictures, is communicating with you through social media or a dating site, and is supposedly sharing information about his unit, where he is, and the missions he is going on.
He’s on Whatsapp, Skype, and other messaging services.
All of those things may be a security risk.
Giving you an email address? Not so much.
There is NO reason not to be able to give you an email address. Think about how ridiculous that is. An email address is a security risk? How? To who?
It’s a security risk to his scam and being able to get money out of you when he can’t provide an email address. The only risk is by you asking, the scammer’s money trail will come to an end.
Excuse #2: He’s Locked Out of His Military Email
The excuse often follows this that he can’t unlock it while he is deployed. So there’s no way for him to access it until he returns home and is in the U.S. again.
Have you ever forgotten the password to your email account or some other online account that you have?
When you clicked to recover a password, did it demand you be in a specific country to allow you to reset a password?
Could a soldier legitimately have forgotten his password? Of course. Does he have to be back in the U.S. to reset it? No.
Excuse #3: His Commander Has To Permit Him to Email You
This particular excuse has always made me laugh. Our military commanders have much more important things to do with their time than to approve who one of their soldiers can email.
In some cases, they will take it a step further at this point and even say you need to pay a certain amount to enable access to his email account. This is also a lie.
A military email address is provided for free. There’s absolutely no reason to send a soldier money. Ever.
Excuse #4: His Military Email Can Only Be Used for Official Communications
He will say he can get in trouble if he uses his military email address for personal communications. He can only use it for official military business.
Again, all lies.
He can use this email address the same as he would any other email. There is no excuse for why he can’t provide it to you.
Excuse #5: His Military Email Address is Classified
Absolutely not true. There’s nothing classified about an email address.
In most cases, he’s told you where he’s deployed to at that moment. That information has a much higher chance of being classified than his email address.
Ask him why he can tell you he’s in whatever country he’s told you, yet something as simple as an email address is “classified”.
What To Do If He Provides an Email Address
First, is the email an official military email address?
If the email address ends in mail.mil, it’s an official military email address. But wait, that doesn’t mean it’s real. We’ll get to that in just a minute.
If he gives a Gmail, Yahoo, usa.com, or any other type of email address other than one ending in mail.mil, it’s not an official email address.
But what about an email address that ends in us.army.mil? That seems official, right?
It was at one point. But those email addresses haven’t been used in years. So, therefore, it’s not any more official than the Gmail address he provided you.
He Gave You an Official Military Email Address – What Now?
So let’s say he actually gave you an email address that ended in mail.mil. This appears it may be an official military email address.
First, let’s take a look at the name. Military email addresses are generally in the format of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does it match the name he’s been using with you? Does it match the last name shown on his uniform?
Let’s say he passes this test too. We are not done, though.
Regardless if it appears he emailed you from the mail.mil email address, compose a NEW email. Do not reply to the email he sent you.
Type in the email address he sent you and ask a specific question in the email. In almost all cases, the email will bounce back to you as even though it’s in the correct format, it’s still not a real email address.
In some cases, it will go through. This has only happened a handful of times in more than ten years I’ve dealt with these scams.
It’s possible that the combination they gave you by pure chance happened to belong to a real soldier, but it won’t be who you are talking to.
In some cases, the soldier may reply (don’t count on this) and let you know you have the wrong person. Or ask you who you are and why you’re emailing him.
In all likelihood, they will assume the email is spam, delete it, and go on about their day.
You ask a very specific question so if you get another response from the scammer that again appears to come from the military email address, he can’t send you a generic response.
I have seen it happen where the victim will tell the scammer she sent an email to him and then receive an email in response that looks like it’s from the military email address.
But is your email intact as it would be for any other email when someone replies to an email? Did he answer the specific question (that you otherwise haven’t told him about) in the email response?
My guess is no. Even when the scammer goes to all the trouble of the above (and very few do), it still falls apart on them in the end.
The Next Step: Guilt Trip For Questioning If He’s Really a Soldier
Because the scammer can’t provide you with a legitimate military email address where you can communicate, he will typically react in two ways – become angry or lay on the guilt.
When these scammers figure out they’ve been busted and the person they’ve been trying to scam for whatever period of time is not going to pay up, they will sometimes become incredibly angry.
He may threaten you. He may say he’s going to expose your information. He may say horrible things to you or about you.
Ignore it all. Report the profile on whatever platform you’ve been communicating with him on and block him. Period.
If he doesn’t get mad, he may make one last-ditch effort to reel you in deeper. This will be where he will feign how hurt and devastated he is by your lack of trust.
He will lay it on thick about how could you possibly not believe him after all he’s shared with you? He will tell you he’s an honorable person and he’s opened his heart to you, only to be treated like this.
He will tell you he loves you. He will beg you not to let this come between you.
It’s nothing more than a ploy to keep you in the mix so you will eventually send him money. It’s easier to stick with the person he already invested so much time in than to have to start over from scratch.
He is playing on your sympathy and your open heart. Don’t let him play on your open wallet too.
No matter if he reacts in anger, shock, devastation, or *insert emotion*, your response should always be the same.
Report his profile. Block all communication channels. Move on.
If you’ve already sent him money or shared any personal or financial information with him, there are additional steps to take. Check out those steps here.
If you are concerned about your safety, you can always contact your local authorities and report what is happening.