Scammer: Okay honey please take good care of yourself for me and remember that i love you so much. Kisses and love always,bye for now :*(heart)
Suzy: I love you too.... A little tip, it deletes all ****** there are too many ******
If you couldn't make it through the entire transcript, it's like if you could somehow read a car crash.
I spoke with Suzy on the phone and convinced her that this was still a ridiculous scam. A little later, the general sent me an email that said, "Steve: Fix my Wikipedia page." I went to Wikipedia and saw this:
Sure; it's in no way suspicious that "Marital Status" is the first section listed for a general.
The page is supposed to say that the general is married, and include his wife's name, but the scammers erased her from the internet's most trusted information source. I reverted the edit and added "monitor the general's Wikipedia page" to my list of duties. Later still, a scammer edited the page to say the general's wife and children had all died in a fire. I overwrote that as well. It generally falls to me to be the point man on this battle, because I'm the young guy in the department -- it's the "grandma on Thanksgiving" rule. I'm technologically adept, and that means I have to "volunteer."
I have a colleague at the Pentagon (another younger "Thanksgiving volunteer") who fields calls from these scammed women. When she answers, the women usually cut the conversation short. I asked her why this was.
"It's pretty easy to guess," she said. "It's the same reason they fall for these scams in the first place. These are old, lonely women who got lost in the fantasy of talking to mysterious, sexy military men. So when they think something's gone wrong, they call the Pentagon -- because scammed or not, they still want to talk to mysterious, sexy military men."
"You mean ...?"
"Yep. Some women keep 'falling' for this scheme, in the same way some women 'accidentally' set their house on fire just to have firemen show up at their house."
Consider this, from Suzy's chat logs:
Scammer: Hello honey are you there? Hello honey are you there?
Suzy: I'm here
Scammer: Honey how are you?
Suzy: I was in Texas U.S. Army *****
Scammer: Oh okay so what happened?
Suzy: I met Major ****** and ******
Scammer: Okay so? what are you now saying?
Suzy: Now what do you say?
Scammer: What do you want me to say? What did ****** told you?
Suzy: I ate with him and talked with an interpreter
She lives in Italy -- she never came to Texas to speak with me, or anyone.
Of course, maybe that's okay in a "to catch a thief" sort of way. But then you get the women who ask us for money. They call, and at first it seems like they're simply informing us about this scam that they were victim to -- but then they claim to really be dating one of our men, and further claim to be entitled to some kind of compensation.
The fact that you can't identify a scam does not double as an invoice.
And no, these weren't more Ghanaians posing as American women. These are American women, and some of them legitimately think they can trick us into giving them money. Others get it in their heads that they're actually helping the US military track down an international crime ring and feel very important doing so. Of the ones demanding money from us, some insist they met their fake boyfriends in person. Some might be mentally ill. One of these backed up her claim with a Photoshopped image:
"We're so close we're joined at the hip! Well, at the shoulder at least."
It's nothing more than sad, honestly ... until they name-drop me in conversations with the scammers. Because that's how I got on the scammers' list of eligible bachelors. Now, every so often, I find that I'm the one on the fake Facebook profile luring in old women. And I'm the one fielding calls about me. One of these scam victims called the Pentagon, and I intervened. Here's the unofficial message I sent the scammer:
I am the LAST person you want to impersonate. I've become very adept at deleting these accounts. You can probably turn a better profit impersonating someone else. You can expect this account to be deleted within 24 hours, and you will have to build your entire network again.
I am well aware that you reside in ******, Ghana, or somewhere nearby. Please note that the United States has absolutely no difficultly drone striking people in all corners of Africa. You may want to reconsider impersonating US military personal.
I know you have an obligation to pay your boss. But please, you can probably find some other way to turn a profit.
That was the last I heard from that guy.
And boy, do these women love to fall for Fake Me. It doesn't help that I happen to share a name with the brooding love interest in a Harlequin romance novel. Every few months, I'll get a Facebook message from some random woman informing me that she fell in love with one of my fake scam profiles.
It does not work out.
Ryan Menezes is an editor and interviewer here at Cracked. Follow him on Twitter for bits cut from this article and other stuff no one should see.
For more looks into the world of ripping people off, check out I'm Not Really Royalty: The World Of Nigerian Internet Scams and 6 Stupid Crowdfunding Scams That Should Have Been Obvious.
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