Army reservists accused of $3 million-worth of romance and business scams

Two Army reservists have been accused of coordinating a fraud scheme involving business email compromises and romance scams against elderly women, according to a federal complaint in the Southern District Court of New York. Joseph I. Asan Jr. Ogozy, both of whom enlisted in the Army Reserve in February , were arrested Oct. An FBI agent said in the complaint that Asan and Ogozy defrauded victims and laundered their proceeds through bank accounts they had opened in the names of fake businesses. The publication Quartz noted that only Asan has been indicted and some of the court records indicate Ogozy might be cooperating with investigators. Few details of their military service were released in the document, and while the romance scams they were allegedly engaged in targeted elderly women , the schemes did not appear to invoke their military service to help their cause. The two men would gain unauthorized access to business email accounts or spoof emails and impersonate employees of a company in order to convince victims to transfer funds to bank accounts they controlled, the FBI agent said in the complaint. An email was sent in February telling the chemical distributor that payment for the sale should be deposited in a bank account owned by Uxbridge Capital, LLC, at a credit union for active-duty, retired and reserve U. After the bank was alerted that the wire transfer was fraudulent on March 1, , the funds were recalled and the account was frozen.

Romance scams

On Facebook and Instagram, there are lottery scams , celebrity impostors and even fake Mark Zuckerbergs. There is also a scheme where scammers pose as American service members to cheat vulnerable women out of their savings. To find victims, they search Facebook groups for targets — often single women and widows — and then message hundreds, hoping to hook a few. Once they have a potential mark, the scammers shift the conversations with their victims to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, messaging services owned by Google and Facebook, in case Facebook deletes their accounts.

A W5 investigation into romance scams airs Saturday at 7pm on CTV. in an investigation into romance fraud when a handsome U.S. soldier who of me, my scammer was accusing me of being a fraud for leading him on.

Each week, I get letters by email, on my website, by Twitter and on Facebook from women who are sending money to Africa and Afghanistan to help service members come home. This is a scam!! These are not men who are in the United States military. They are scam artists preying on desperate women. I met a sergeant in the Army on Facebook from the Zoosk dating site. We have been texting since May.

His name is Sgt. Larry Williams, and he was in Afghanistan from Fort Campbell. I tried to raise the money but was making myself sick trying. He says he was deployed to Africa about three weeks ago, and kept asking about the money. I told him I just did not have it. His response was that he could not take the texting, so I said I guess that meant that we were over.

He responded that he would rather forget about the phone than to lose me. At first, it was three thousand and I sent it.

These Social Media Scams Affect the Military

Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of reports a month from individuals who have fallen victim to a scam perpetrated by a person impersonating a U. Soldier online. Soldier who then began asking for money for various false service-related needs. Victims of these scams can lose tens of thousands of dollars and face a slim likelihood of recovering any of it.

Military public relations often post information on sent to a third party to be collected for the scammer.

Courtesy photo via The Virginian-Pilot. But Sency, a petty officer 1st class stationed in Virginia Beach, has never met or even communicated with any of these people before. The year-old is the victim of a long-running series of scams that steal photos of service members and use them to swindle money out of people online. It works like this: a scammer takes photos of someone like Sency, creates a fake social media account and develops a new online persona — sometimes using the real name of the person in the photo.

Then the scammer will strike up online conversations with women around the world, many of them older or vulnerable, and pretend to be in a hard spot. Sometimes they solicit risque photographs and use them as blackmail. The U. In addition to being in the Navy, he co-hosts a popular military podcast called The Smoke Pit and maintains a sizable public presence for it online.

Some of his social media accounts are public, allowing people access to plenty of photos of him. Many lead back to Nigeria. That fits into a pattern documented in a New York Times investigation last year. And these scammers know the right words to say. Sency said he knows others in the military who have been similarly affected, including soldiers at Fort Bragg and Marines at Camp Lejeune.

ACFE Insights

Running romance scams is a full-time job for some scammers and they can be very good at it. In reality, actual losses are likely much higher. A scammer pretends to be in a relationship with someone online in order to scam them out of money. They do this through email, social media, dating websites and other website and apps. They will have a fake backstory, family, friends and job. They may start by requesting small sums of money to test the waters, and then build up to requesting larger amounts.

Words With Friends, Fake Friends, Scammer Pictures, You Better Stop, Stolen Image, About US soldiers’ scam CID warns of Internet romance scams Pls.

Embassy Kabul frequently receives inquiries from people who have been victimized by Internet scammers. These scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money by developing a friendship, romance or business partnership online, and then exploiting that relationship to ask for money. The most common scam we see involves calls, texts, or social media messages Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, dating apps, etc from a person claiming be a U. Armed Forces, a military contractor, a U.

Embassy diplomat, or an employee of an international aid organization. These con artists are very convincing and troll the Internet for potential victims, spending weeks or months to build a relationship. Scammers can be very clever and deceptive, creating sad and believable stories that will make you want to send them money.

wall of Shame. military scammers

Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military.

Once a scammer has you hooked, the possibilities are limitless, but here are a As noted by A Soldier’s Perspective, these scams are common and often hard.

Your military friend or family member serves our country with integrity and honor. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of that service to cheat them and you. You can help protect your service member against military scams by learning the warning signs of schemes that target those in the military community. Unfortunately, these scams prey on fears about the coronavirus disease, trying to trick service members and family members into revealing sensitive information or donating money to a fraudulent cause.

Bogus emails that look legitimate can offer fake alerts or information about the outbreak, fake workplace policy updates, or fake medical advice. By clicking on links in these emails, you could download malware or have your identity stolen. There are safety measures you can take to protect yourself: Avoid clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails. Use trusted sources such as legitimate government websites for information. Avoid emails that insist you act now. Remember, there are always people looking to take advantage of a crisis to harm others — be vigilant.

These scams target military personnel looking for housing near a base. Scammers pretend to be real estate agents and post fake ads for rental properties on websites, sometimes promising military discounts and other incentives.

Romance Scams

But Sency, a petty officer 1st class stationed in Virginia Beach, has never met or even communicated with any of these people before. The year-old is the victim of a long-running series of scams that steal photos of service members and use them to swindle money out of people online. It works like this: a scammer takes photos of someone like Sency, creates a fake social media account and develops a new online persona — sometimes using the real name of the person in the photo.

Victims may encounter these romance scammers on a legitimate dating photos​, official photos, and even changing the nametape on Soldier’s uniforms.

Online scammers who use lonely hearts schemes to bilk people out of money sometimes steal the identity of a military member to tug at their victim’s heartstrings. Usually, these scammers develop fake contacts, using easily obtained pictures from real U. The scammers often use internet cafes and reroute money multiple times to untraceable sources, making it difficult to track them or reclaim any money they manage to steal.

What’s especially insidious about this kind of online scam is that many people legitimately want to help a member of the U. The scammers are exploiting people’s good intentions toward our men and women in uniform, and exploit their goodwill. Not only does this kind of fraud hurt the victim, but it damages the reputation of the United States Military member. Foreign victims often fall for the scam, and really do think a U. Someone who pretends to be a sailor, soldier, airman, or Marine looking for love but really is looking for cash will count on you not investigating them too deeply.

This is where you can get the upper hand.

Military romance scam update