In Focus: The Vulnerability of Military Men in Using Social Media Sites

Military officials warn military personnel about the dangers of using social media sites in sharing photos and info about their military life with their family. Although social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or Snapchat provide excellent tools that they can use to communicate closely and in real time with their loved ones, many cyber criminals are on the lookout for photos and stories that they can use for unscrupulous purposes.

The first major area of concern is the potential loss of confidential military information as certain photographs can be analyzed for location, and other useful statistical information. While having access to Instagram statistics is the best way to analyze data about an Instagram post if for legitimate marketing and brand promoting activities, analytics can also help seedy terrorists and scammers in using statistical data to extract information about military bases and their personnel.

Apparently, U.S. military analysts are in the know about such vulnerabilities, as they are also into analyzing the social media posts of persons of interests, especially if they have been flagged as potential terrorists, scammers or even military service deserters.

Romance Scams Exploit the Social Media Photos of Military Men

In recent months, several U.S. military offices have received numerous complaints from women civilians regarding military men they came to date online. They claim that after convincing them of an emergency need, they later find out that they have been scammed into giving most of their life savings. Many of the romance scams purportedly involved U.S. service members serving in Afghanistan, Syria, or other conflict-affected countries.

As it is, romance scammers usually look for U.S. military service men whom they can impersonate. Mainly because military servicemen are reputable examples of people who have been trained to be honorable and respectable in their deportment. At the same time, members of military personnel earn steady and regular income, but tend to be lonely since they are far from home; or are feeling depressed over some romantic betrayal of a former girlfriend.

Once romance scammers are able to sweet talk their online victims about the promise of a future visit and possibly even a betrothal, they’ll start to ask their victims for money. On the days of their supposed arrival, some may claim having been held up at the airport and being wrongfully accused of smuggling expensive items such as a smartphone, a diamond engagement ring and other valuables — items that a bogus military boyfriend purportedly bought as presents for his victim.

Through the help of a third person who will act as enforcer or person of authority, lovesick victims will frantically transfer the money requested to an ewallet account; just so they can save their beloved soldier from getting entangled in unlawful issues.

As the number of complaints about failed online romances with military men increased in the past few months, a military task force was assigned to find out more. First off, the task force wanted to find out if any military personnel are actually involved in perpetuating such online dating scams.

However, the task force found out that military men are victims themselves as photos taken from social media sites were used in scamming the victims. Generally, the scammers operate from some African nation, using cyber cafes and untraceable email addresses, while routing their accounts across another part of the world. That being the set up, the identities of these scammers and their actual locations have been difficult to trace.