What It’s Like to Be the Face of Romance (Scams)
A real US Army colonel named Daniel Blackmon is being impersonated in hundreds or even thousands of romance scams, according to Haley Britzky at Task & Purpose. The scammers took pictures from Col. Blackmon’s social media pages and used them to craft phony profiles. The real Blackmon, who is happily married and utterly unconnected with the scammers, is aware of these scams and is doing his best to let people know that he won’t message them if he doesn’t know them, and that he won’t ask for money.
“He’s far from the only service member whose likeness is used to scam unsuspecting people — typically women — into believing they’re in a friendship, or even romantic relationship, with the person behind the scam,” Britzky writes. “The top U.S. general in Afghanistan once said officials had uncovered more than 700 fake profiles under his name. And others with high profiles, such as former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford, have reported similar impersonations. Military romance scams are so common in fact that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division has an entire webpage dedicated to informing people on how to spot them and report them.”
Britzky adds that these scams have warning signs, but people often miss them because emotions are involved.
“In a way, it’s not much different than other popular scams of the past, like the infamous ‘Nigerian prince’ emails asking people for their bank information that still rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to ADT Security Services,” Britzky says. “But military romance scams, in particular, expose the knowledge gap between American citizens and their military. Troops deployed overseas, for example, will always have access to their money. And even if for some strange reason they didn’t, would they really be asking a stranger to send them thousands?”
Blackmon said that the best way to combat these scams is to spread awareness about them.
“We’ve just got to do our best to highlight it, and the more you highlight it the less chance they have,” Blackmon said. “And they’ll move on to something else. But it isn’t going to be this one.”