Scam Artists Targeting Military Members & Families

December 28, 2007

Recently an officer with 3rd Infantry Division, was the target of a scam artist, one of many who are targeting military members and their families. In early December, 1Lt David Cowan said that his elderly grandmother received a phone call from a man who said that his name was J.D. Taylor. The caller claimed that 1Lt Cowan was on his way home on leave from Iraq and had lost his wallet and military ID. The caller went on to ask Cowan’s grandmother to wire $800 on Cowan’s behalf, in order for Cowan to be able to get back home and surprise his family for Christmas. The call was a scam. Luckily Cowan’s grandmother knew enough to be suspicious of strangers asking for money and didn’t wire anything to the caller.

“I told her to write down everything she could remember from the conversation and to immediately contact the authorities,” Cowan recently wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “My grandmother is 84, and still a very sharp woman. Thankfully, she immediately saw through his scam and decided to contact me directly.”

Cowan said that he thinks the scam artist will attempt to try a similar ruse on other military families and wants to get the word out, so that others don’t fall prey to the scam. Federal investigators think that he’s probably right.

In the past few years, the FBI has tracked an increasing number of scams that target military families, or that make false claims to prey on the publics feelings of good will towards the Troops. The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center which has tracked numerous scams, including emails which claim to be from supposed Soldiers, claiming to have either found or stolen millions of dollars in Iraq and asking for help in bringing the money back to the US. These scams are similar to the “Nigerian email scams,” like the ones that CJ at A Soldier’s Perspective has archived here. Those of you who’ve followed CJ’s posting of Nigerian Scammers emails, know that CJ has a tendency to completely lead them to believe he’s falling for their scam and then frustrating them so much that they quit emailing him. Some of his posts on this subject have been quite entertaining.

“The scam e-mails vary in content; however the general theme of each is to request personal information and/or funds from the individual receiving the email,” according to an FBI primer on the subject.

Despite numerous warnings about these scams, some people still fall for them and end up losing money to these people, who want nothing more than to clean out a person’s bank account. According to investigators, Cowan and his grandmother handled the situation in the proper manner. Law Enforcement officials reemphasize to people that they should never provide any personal or financial information to anyone over the phone and they should never send money to a stranger on a relative’s behalf. Officials further suggest that if you are contacted by a suspicious sounding person, you should reconrd the details of the conversation and immediately contact local and federal law enforcement authorities.

This is very sound advice and bears repeating again and again. About 15 years ago, my grandmother fell prey to a similar ruse, except she was approached by strangers in a Walmart parking lot. Unfortunately, my grandmother was a very trusting person, who believed that everyone was as honest as she was, and she ended up giving the people who took advantage of her, the money she had saved to pay her property taxes on her home. These people look for elderly people and those who they feel will be easily be convinced that they’re being honest. Please make sure your family members are aware of these scams and alerted not to fall prey to them. Sometimes, being a bit suspicious about a situation, can save you or your loved one from having to deal with the loss of their hard earned money.


3 Responses to “Scam Artists Targeting Military Members & Families”

  1. Military Blog Updates » Scam Artists Targeting Military Members & Families on December 28th, 2007 2:54 am

    [...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

  2. Leta on December 30th, 2007 5:05 pm

    Don’t they have a bit of room at Gitmo these days? Need to send these felons there and forget about them.

  3. Twana Blevins on December 30th, 2007 6:06 pm

    I’m with Leta. Now there’s a follow up action!

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