Scammers Targeting Soldiers in Online Scams

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - If you are in the military or have a loved one serving, being the victim of a scammer may be the last thing you are concerned about.

It seems unimaginable, but consumer experts say con artists are preying on soldiers and their families. But you don't have to be in the military to be a victim. 

The same scammers are using the military's good reputation to con everyday folks as well.

While our military men and women are battling on the war front, online con artists are using their names here on the home front to scam unsuspecting victims.

"Why would somebody pay to send money overseas to somebody you've never seen a picture of,"said Brandy Pinkston with the South Carolina Consumer Affairs Department.

Pinkston says some folks are falling for the online dating scams. Officials say the con artists use real military photos, even those of dead soldiers, to create fake dating profiles.

"Even if they flash the photo, how do you know it's them,"said Pinkston. 

Recently in Indiana, 43 year-old James Schuder was charged with deception and panhandling after police say he took nearly $500 from 7 people while masquerading as a down-on-his-luck soldier.

And in Illinois, scammers are using Craigslist, pretending to be soldiers selling cars and even laptops.

Several people actually sent money to the con artists.

"It's a very low life thing to do," said 1st Lieutenant Dutch Grove. "This person is dragging the Illinois National Guard's name through the mud in an attempt to rip people off."

In some cases, soldiers and their families have become the actual targets of military loan scams and even housing scams.

"The one thing that the scammers know is that there's a predictable paycheck,"said Pinkston.

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