If you have fallen for a U.S. Army “captain” through an online dating site, be warned: That officer may be no gentleman.
Hundreds of times a day, women here and overseas complain about being scammed by con artists posing as U.S. service members, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
“We literally get hundreds of phone calls, daily, worldwide,” spokesman Chris Grey says.
Grey has made it a personal crusade to warn the public about the online scams that are using men in uniform as bait to reel in women who hand over cash in the name of love.
Most of the victims are women in the U.S., ranging in age from late 30s to late 70s, Grey says, and some are highly educated.
Typically a swindle starts with a scam artist stealing a service member’s name and photos from various sites online, and it advances to requesting money from the fake love interest for some phony, dire need.
Grey, 60, a retired Marine master sergeant, says he’s heard from victims who have lost $80,000 to $90,000 to such scams and even taken out a second mortgage to foot the bills for an impostor feigning love.
The largest loss he’s seen involved a woman taken for about $450,000.
“It’s heartbreaking listening to these stories,” he says.
"These people are looking for love and they end up with an empty bank account and a broken heart."
—Chris Grey, spokesman, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command
The 2,600-person command Grey serves is in Quantico, Va., and it investigates felonies in which Army personnel are victims or perpetrators. Thus it lacks jurisdiction to probe the barrage of incoming calls, since the service personnel are not victimized beyond having their names and photos misappropriated.