Consider this a public service announcement.
The Army‘s Criminal Investigation Division on Tuesday warned users of online dating services to beware of scam artists claiming to be soldiers needing money.
Similar warnings about “romance scams” have gone out before, but many in the public still fall victim to the con artists to the tune of “tens of thousands of dollars, with a very low possibility of recovery,” the division said in a release.
“Army CID receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims who state they got involved in an online relationship with someone, on a legitimate dating website or other social media website, who claims to be a U.S. Soldier,” the release said.
“The ‘Soldier’ then begins asking for money for various false, service-related needs such as transportation costs, communication fees, marriage, processing and medical fees.”
The scams are a “growing epidemic,” officials said, and “unfortunately, many times the people committing these scams are from African countries using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour internet cyber cafes, which often times maintain no accountability of use.”
Victims of the bogus “soldier” scams should report the incidents to the Federal Trade Commission or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
However, CID officials said the first thing online daters should know is, “Do Not Send Money.”
In addition, “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,” the agency said.
In might also help to be “very suspicious of someone you have never met and who pledges their love at warp speed.”