News: Service members protecting their identity protects citizens
Story by 1st Lt. Tyler Mitchell
FRANKLIN, Ind. - A few months ago I was emailed by a gentleman asking me for help with a situation regarding his mother-in-law corresponding with a Soldier overseas.
He informed me that his mother-in-law was talking back and forth via Facebook with a man that said he was in Afghanistan for the National Guard. This man even supplied pictures of himself in uniform.
Daily, the man would tell her how much he loved her.
He claimed to be returning home in June but his tour was being extended to December and the only way to come home early (on leave) was to have her fill out paperwork.
The woman was fortunate enough to have a son-in-law that noticed something was not right.
Once the proper authorities were able to show him that his mother-in-law was being taken advantage of, he was able to prove to her that it was a case of identity theft.
This was a case of identity theft and a phishing scam.
Someone had taken a Soldier's photos from Facebook and used them to represent himself while trying to get her information.
Phishing is the act of impersonating a legitimate organization in an attempt to scam an individual out of their sensitive information such as passwords, addresses or bank information.
Identity theft is when someone impersonates another person with their personal information without their knowledge.
This incident in particular was a romance scam. In this scam, the enemy typically targets people aged 40 years or older and narrows it down further to the widowed, disabled, or elderly.
When we think of protecting citizens, we imagine something involved with an enemy and an M4 Carbine. That is not always the case. Unfortunately, the enemy is somewhere out in the world using the internet to attack his targets and can be hard to locate.
So the next question might be, how do we prevent the enemy from using our information to lure civilians into scams?
Here are a few tips from the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, commonly known as CID.
-Be selective about who you decide to connect with on social media. If you don't know someone, why connect with them?
-Take a few minutes and check out your privacy settings. Someone you don't know should not be able to go through every picture you have, see where you work, and how often you "check-in" to places. Under this setting you can also review who is allowed to tag you in photos.
-Never disclose private information when using social networking websites such as birth dates, and marital status.
-Think about it, if you constantly post photos of yourself in uniform with no privacy settings, you are leaving yourself open to anything.
Service members are fortunate enough to have millions of Americans that care about them and want to do what they can to assist them. We have enemies around the world that know this and are working as hard as they can to exploit that to their advantage.
Where to go for help:
Report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership).
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations.
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
Should you or someone you know fall victim to this cybercrime, reporting it as soon as possible can assist law enforcement agencies in their investigations and help bring those responsible to justice.