July 27, 2010

Scammers, Be Gone!

Posted: 05:31 PM ET

Twitter: @AbbieCNN

Why isn't more being done to stop online imposters who steal photos of soldiers they find on the Internet, and then fraudulently post them on dating websites to scam women out of money? Sometimes these scammers even use photos they find of soldiers who were killed while at war.

We reached out to the Army, the Secret Service, the FBI, the State Department, Federal Trade Commission and the National White Collar Crime Center to find out if anyone was trying to track down these scammers. All say, unfortunately, there is little they can do. Of course, the feds can take your complaint, but they say they are not actively pursuing the imposters, mostly because they are operating from outside the United States and are very mobile, often from internet cafes.

I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for both the women who are scammed and the soldiers whose names and photos have been stolen. The reason the Army says it cannot go after these scam artists is because the soldier is not the perpetrator, which means the crime does not fall under the Army's jurisdiction.

Since we began reporting this story, we've heard from other soldiers and high-ranking Army officials who say they feel helpless. They don't understand why more cannot be done to stop these online imposters.

What do you think should happen? And for you computer geniuses out there, is it really that hard to track down these scammers and to put an end to this?

If you want to report a scam like this one, the Army recommends you contact one of the following entities:

Federal Trade Commission:
By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580

Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Report the theft to one of your local law enforcement agencies:


United States Secret Service:

United States Postal Inspection Service:

United States Army Criminal Investigation Command:

United States Navy Criminal Investigative Service:

United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations:

Filed under: Abbie Boudreau • Special Investigations Unit

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Momscombatboots   July 28th, 2010 10:37 am ET

In regard to impostors who steal photos of soldiers and then use them to scam women out of money on dating web sites, I just have to say, (and some one will probably have something to say about this), I think the first people they ought to investigate in this matter is the military soldiers themselves. I was in the military and saw a lot of illegal things going on among soldiers who had stolen other soldiers social security cards and money and such – our military is not the "loyal" "squeaky clean" group that they are often made out to be. I think I've seen it all in the military, this may just be one more thing, so before they try to place the blame elsewhere they need to take a good hard look at themselves.

polly   July 28th, 2010 11:42 am ET

There is a person on the Love and Seek Christian online dating service that is pretending to be General George Casey. He is using his pic which is the same picture that comes up when you google Gen Casey's name. He has sent me serveral emails even after I exposed him as a fraud and that I knew that the General was married and has children. This guy made some false claims abt that could hurt the General's reputation. something needs to be done to stop this type of fraud.

Roxanne Kaminski   July 28th, 2010 11:46 am ET

Two more name that can be found and are scamming women, Sgt. Vernon James Bosco, aka Sgt. JamesVernon Bosco, says he is stationed in Afghanistan, And Mark Burrell, says he is stationed in Iraq. Both hit me up. Mark Burell can be found on the date hook-up network and Mr.Bosco is on facebook as we speak. For more info I can be reached at 517-580-5083
Respectfully, Roxanne Kaminski

SourDiesel   July 28th, 2010 12:35 pm ET

You deserve what you get. Being desperate old ugly women, doesnt help your case at all. Calm down, if you havent had a kid by 40, Im sorry but its just not gonna happen. None of you are Halle Berry or Julia Roberts so dont think youll magically find someone after the age of 30.

darlene meadows   July 28th, 2010 12:40 pm ET

Can you imagine how the parents must feel let alone this lady? As an ex-military wife, I can assure I can relate to this story. There are alot of people out there who do nothing but sit and think about how they can get money out of someone but now to use a deceased soldier's identity is just about the lowest form of scum on this earth. Sorry, I am very opinionated about this.

Jeff Butler   July 28th, 2010 2:58 pm ET

This Scam is most likley comming from Nigerian Internet cafes . I feel for both the victim and the parents of these brave soliders who served there country.

The sad facts are the Militaries hands are tied. The

Derek   July 28th, 2010 4:22 pm ET

As far as tracking them via computers, if they are even half way smart, it would be near impossible. If they are using a laptop and connecting a an unsecured wireless network then all you're gonna get is an IP address. It will tell you where they connected from and when but not who. If there are 20+ users in the cafe, or if they are picking up the wifi signal from outside the internet cafe in their car/van then it would be near impossible to figure out exactly who it was.

There is a simple solution to this. People need to lock down their wireless networks. I'm not talking about just putting on a password, but putting on a good, long, password with upper and lower case with symbols and numbers included also. Then stop broadcasting your SSID.

Internet cafe's need to require ID and log who is on the computers and during what times and assign the computers static IP addresses.

All the mentioned above can still be circumvented but your average scammer in Africa wouldn't know how.

COLLEEN   July 28th, 2010 4:37 pm ET

These scum are on all the dating sites, plenty of them, and they want money for plane tickets home........they are pathettic excuses for men. There are probably 50 of them on the site. Your first clue when you are chatting with them is they seem to have a problem with the written english language and I know our troops dont usually have a problem with that. They also seem to always be available on the chat parts of these sites...another clue that they are imposters, most troops are too busy to be on a chat site 24/7. Also caution they usually ask for money very soon in the cycle of chatting with them.

kathy myers   July 28th, 2010 5:36 pm ET

these men are sayong they need money to come home from iraq or leave tell us the truth

nezhmet   July 28th, 2010 5:36 pm ET

Please, please, please get out of Afghanistan now. It will lower the death toll and get rid of the scammers.

Leo Richardson   July 28th, 2010 7:51 pm ET

This is real and it happend to my wife and I and it was destroying our marriage just a few weeks ago

Rgdm   July 28th, 2010 11:02 pm ET

Romance scammers are on every website out there from facebook to AARP. Perhaps it would be a good idea to post awareness.
They usually work very fast, mentioning the word 'love' very early in the conversation. They have fake videos that make you think you are looking at someone real. They have fake phone numbers to make you think you are speaking to the real person. Many are from Russia, Ghana and NIgeria Africa and most any depressed place. They claim to be from places like Georgia, South Carolina and can call you with matching area codes. I strongly advise not sending money to anyone that you have never met in person, no matter what sob story they hand out. If he cannot afford to visit you on his own dime, then he does not deserve you.

jenn   July 29th, 2010 9:04 am ET

Ok, the first indicator that this is a scam is when they ask for money to get home. Being in the service, they are flown via military planes since they are active duty in Afghanistan. Two, if they are trying to get home via a personal flight for their vacation, NOT HAPPENING!!! These soldiers are ON DUTY! The women that fall for this should only blame themselves for the mess they are in

ron silva   July 29th, 2010 9:06 am ET

why not look into why the U.S. has 50,000 troops in europe. if those troops were to be put across the southern border of this country,2 things would take place.1. the flow of drugs and people would go down right away.2.those southern cities economys would jump should start at home,not germany.

tena welborn   July 29th, 2010 9:35 am ET

This Mark Burrell needs to be stop I was a victim f this scam ladies please be aware

Steve Brady   July 29th, 2010 9:53 am ET

Why do we continue to elect politicians who want us to continue these stupid wars?

Helen welborn   July 29th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

we need help this scammer named mark burrell is on yahoo messengerv as we speak trying to get money sent to him he says he is from chicago now went to fbi today with no relief whats up with that doesnt the president over the fbi i am an american in need of help

Crimsonrain   July 29th, 2010 1:25 pm ET

This is total garbage. It's the one huge thing that makes all dating sites awful. Fake people trying to guys have it just as bad as the women on those sites. for the women it's this...for us guys it's the porn sites. If a woman on a dating sites looks too good to be true...or her profile looks too good or too scripted it's fake. I've pretty much removed myself from the internet dating picture due to this fact.

al   July 30th, 2010 12:09 am ET

western union, the method of choice, should be accountable as the accessory to the crime.
then perhaps they will put some security in place. such as requiring photo id by the receiver, and notifying the sender id the person has a complaint logged against them at western union.
western union should also log complaints against receivers and refuse to process orders to them until resolved. they also should be held liable if they continue to send to areas and people where fraud is a persistent issue. right now they are acting scot free and without responsibility for knowingly supplying instruments of fraud.

Richard C.   August 10th, 2010 6:17 pm ET

This is the internet. Scamming and using other people's photos is not limited to Soldiers. Expect anything you post online, especially photos to be subject to nefarious use.

Richard C.   August 10th, 2010 6:18 pm ET

Also, these are the Nigerians/Ugandans/etc. hard at work.

Sarah   August 14th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

An option would be to put pressure on the COUNTRIES and BUSINESSES from which these scams are being run – while alone, dating scams are not really a huge threat, when they are combined with other similar scams such as money-order and, worse yet, employment scams, it's become an almost DAILY thing for most American internet users and it's time to start taking steps.

It may not be terrorism, but it's certainly one country allowing its citizens to take advantage of ours, en masse. If you can't catch the individual perps, go after the people who stand to benefit by allowing them to do as they please.

Concerned   August 15th, 2010 5:55 am ET

I'm supprised Abbie didnt link these scams to Sex offenders that seems to be the only way she can report on an issue

Linda Fister   September 26th, 2010 5:01 pm ET

our state is almost bankrupt. the local city is also bankrupt. many can't find a job and their unemployment has run out so the employment rate gives a false reading. We have a jack ass president who changes our medical system and takes over college loans while we are on a verge of a depression. Im glad this reporter has energy for the dating world and I'm sorry for our hero's in the armed services. but what happened to meeting in real life in a coffee shop. Oh ya no one can afford a cup of coffee at star bucks. Do a story on these democrats with the lip service. and the other political party needs to do it's job and bring back job's and security. When this is taken care of I will look for a date. This reporter want's to be patted on the back because of the dirt she finds. More important topics than dating failures. let the buyer beware!!

Coaster   September 26th, 2010 10:55 pm ET

Roxanne, I have to say that posting your name and phone number was probbaly not the most intelligent thing to do. Yeah, they are probably searchable, but you really aren't making things difficult for identity thieves. Which is really all the "Mark Burells" out there are after. Access to as much of your money, and credit, as they can get. Preferrably credit, because there's a lot more of that. Never post your real name, never give your phone number. That's step one.

Mobius   September 28th, 2010 3:07 pm ET

There is no hope.

Ron Nospam   September 30th, 2010 4:58 pm ET

Speaking as a web developer, I can attest that it is quite possible to disguise the origination of any on-line internet activity. However, criminals eventually have to surface in some way to collect their ill-gotten gains. Electronic funds transfer, the usual method for such fraud, money wire transfers, and credit card traqnsactions are meticulously identified and recorded. All it would take would be a coordinated effort between the police in the jurisdiction where the potential victim resides and police at the end where the money goes to monitor a faked money transfer and pick up the criminals when they collect at the bank.. THAT'S where the problem lies, not anonymous web addresses. The police where the victim lives think the jurisdiction lies where the scam artists reside, and the police in remote locations refuse to accept criminal complaints from people who live outside their jursdiction. It's a bureauocratic catch-22 that foreign criminals exploit.

Deadkennedys   September 30th, 2010 7:24 pm ET

scams are as old as people....they jump from one medium to the next, from news papers, to tapes and telephones, to the internet...anyone who grew up in the last 40 years should have the common sense to think twice about sending money to someone the have never met.

there wouldnt be scams all over the place if people didnt buy into them.

and to the comment of " al" why should western union be held accountable? that makes no walk in, and say "I want to wire money to xxx" and thats what they do, they wire it. In what shape or form can they...and should they be held accountable?

there are 2 parties who should be held accountable, the scammer, and the gullible person who fell for it. I cant stand how people cant accept responsibility for their actions and mistakes, yes they were decieved...but any 15 yr old kid could tell you thats a scam.

Ron Nospam   September 30th, 2010 10:45 pm ET

I did not suggest Western Union should be held responsible. I said money is typically transferred using such means and THEY keep records at both ends the police could use to track the money.

Emily   October 1st, 2010 9:32 am ET

I had a man from okcupid "JAllen4U" use his 30 something son's photo to lure me into a romantic relationship. He was in his sixties. We texted alot, but he was hesitant to speak on the phone. When he did, he sounded like he was 100 years old. I became suspect and googled his e-mail. It pulled up another profile from okcupid which had his real age and a photo of him with his son lying on the couch in his living room. DISGUSTING using your own child's photo to lure in younger women!!!

Jennie   October 2nd, 2010 9:52 am ET

Western Union used to have the pick up location on their website by entering the MTCN number – not any more. They will not give out that information unless they are served with a subpoena. Makes it much harder to locate the scammers location. Probably what Western Union wanted.

LH   October 6th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

What's with all this talk about the police? Al & Ron, the police aren't going to get involved in transactions that were willingly entered into by two parties, nor should they. None of the above-described activities constitutes a crime. Bad manners, sure. Crime, no.

Linda   October 10th, 2010 11:09 am ET

comment on Ron's comment. I agree all transactions are documented. but in nigeria they are out of money. the police are probably involved on some level and like LH said why should our police butt their nose's into areas which are not enforcable by law. I will make the point here we are talking about penny's compared to the crime that went down this week with obama's stimulus plan. 75,000 dead people got checks in the mail. this is millions of dollars of your tax dollars at work. The president and his team are the con men . The dead gave the votes to help win and now they got paid off. Did you notice all the democrats in usa with signs on the side of the road don't write Democrat on the posters any more. This is a national strategy. another name is con . You waste your breath on nigeria and it's con men and u walk around and pay your tax's and they go to dead people. thousands to nigerians and millions to dead people. this is strangers money to to con men and your money to dead people. where is the story. Oh ya cnn does not do stories against the democrats because they are in bed with them.

Evan   October 10th, 2010 1:21 pm ET

Why not task INTERPOL to track down these criminals?

Evan   October 10th, 2010 1:40 pm ET

I should have mentioned in my previous message to forward fraudulent sounding emails (i.e. Nigerian sounding money scams, job offers that sound like money laundering schemes, wealthy Nigerian Princes offering to transfer their fortunes into your bank account, or anything else that sounds too good to be true or is illiciting criminal conduct in some form) using your email's "Forward As Attachment" feature or similar.

This is very important. DO NOT forward offending messages as an "Inline" attachment if at all possible. (An "Inline" attachment copies the message into a new email to be forwarded, whereas forwarding a message "As Attachment" sends the original email you're forwarding as an attachment, containing full headers. The attachment is thereby preserved as forensic evidence for a criminal investigation.)

Again, these are the forwarding addresses I use before adding the offending email to my spam filter:

We need to assist authorities in tracking down these rats and exterminating them.

Linda   October 11th, 2010 4:04 pm ET

Interpol has no greater powers than the fbi. I will tell you a true story to help you understand how this stuff works. I know of a caribbean island where the FBi went on its soil and plucked away an american stock broker who swindled millions from clients in Fla.. then on this same island the fbi and special forces of our Army were invited their to pluck away a drug dealer who threatened to kill american students there. Now here is the kicker. A russian fugitive is hiding on this island now and he worked for the russian bio war fare program and stole the formula for wmd and sold it and is an international fugitive but we can't touch him. The word on the street is he paid off someone in the govt. their. You think wmd would trump it all but in the real world it does not. we only have jurisdiction in usa. interpol or fbi need to be invited by another country to do work there. everyone is out for themselves. I know of many americans being robbed in Bermuda now and out Attorney general Holder was there over a week ago in regard to drugs and gangs and shootings and other topics. Everyone thought bermuda was so safe. but it is the same. The premier there went as far to enact the media council act of 2010 in may where they lost freedom of press. Once u leave america it is a different playing field. We hope the state dept keeps up on this and stories like the boy from a cruise ship who was murdered in St Thomas this year. With topics like these im sure you can understand why dating scams are on the back burners. and by trying to make the FBi look bad you only tie up the resource and make it less effective for where it is needed. When america becomes more like nigeria then u will get the wake up call. It is a fact our govt. is as corrupt as any other with likes of obama and polosi bankrupting the system while they rent 9 million dollar villa's in hawaii.. the world is going down the toilet and it is your tax dollars paving the way.

Jan Boudart   October 20th, 2010 10:13 am ET

I just read Abbie Boudreaux' story about her encounter with the ACORN poseurs. Here's my favorite quote from Dolly Parton: People may say I'm a dumb blond, "but I know I'm not dumb; and I'm not a blond!"

Gabriela g   December 21st, 2010 4:09 pm ET

I have recently been a victim of a scam online through

My concern is to warn the person whose photograph was being used. How can I seek for help to get someone to identify this person to let him know what they are doing with his picture?

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