The soldier in a war zone dating scam has been around for a few years now but it’s surprising how many people dating online remain unaware of it.
Nigerian and Russian scammers have long used the old “I’m a civil engineer working in Nigeria or Russia …. oops I’ve been robbed/got sick/got a great business deal and need a financial loan” trick to scam money out of trusting people they meet online.
The serviceman scam stoops to an even deeper low, playing on people’s patriotism, sympathies and trust.
When it began the soldier scam usually said they were a soldier (from US or UK) serving in Iraq but as public popularity for the Iraq war dwindled Afghanistan became the war zone of choice.
This is how the scam works:
After registering with an online dating site the scammer uploads a photo of a soldier they have downloaded from a facebook page or army recruiting website and then copies and pastes a great profile writeup from a script.
They immediately send a short but friendly message to numerous women on the site introducing themselves and asking about the woman.
You reply, saying a little about yourself and asking about him.
When they respond they will give very little away about themselves, again responding to what you have told them and asking questions about you. They will also give an email or msn address where you can contact them offsite.
NB … the more you tell a stranger about yourself, particularly personal stories, the closer you feel to them because there is a bond of trust … scammers use this against you and the more you tell the more trust you show.
In their second or third email they will tell you they are a US or UK soldier serving in Afghanistan or Iraq … they say they hope that doesn’t scare you … and they have one child they are totally devoted to.
The story then varies depending on which script the scammer is working from …. either they are a widower or divorced …. sometimes their ex/deceased wife was a Nigerian, if so the child may have gone to stay with his ex/deceased wife’s mother in Nigeria while he is away at war, or else the child is with his own mother in UK or US while they are in Afghanistan (this depends wether they have contacts in the UK or US to channel the money through).
After they feel they have your trust and you are emotionally hooked (usually after declarations of love or commitment to a long term relationship) they will start to mention how worried they are because they’ve heard their child is sick. This can either be a gradual process or they will receive a call with the heartbreaking news while they are talking to you online or by phone.
Then the first request to borrow money will arrive to pay for emergency medical care for their child … obviously they can’t send money from Afghanistan, it’s a war zone but will pay you back as soon as they get home.
If you send money the requests will keep coming as their imaginary child gets sicker and the medical bills mount up … oh and don’t forget his dear old mother who has to stay in a hotel next to the hospital.
This scam is quite successful because you have a patriotic soldier putting life and limb on the line each day. One who has gone through heartbreak and tough times emotionally (showing his vulnerable side) and of course one that is totally committed to loving and caring for you for the rest of your life … they are exactly what you have been looking for, a real life knight in shining armour.
A professional woman in the UK was scammed out of £10,000 by this very type of scam …. please don’t fall for it.
My apologies to the genuine US soldier in the photo used in this article, I simply copied it from google images to show how easy it is and I hope the soldier in the picture (and his family) would understand my intention is simply to keep women safe by explaining how the soldier scam works.