Updated on October 14, 2011
Kenneth Klice – Fictitious Soldier
I started doing these Nigerian Scam blogs with “David” a few years ago after getting a little fed up with the sheer volume making it into my inbox. Over the past few years, they have evolved with the times. There are scams using the President’s name, the FBI, and military members.
One of the downfalls of our interconnected world is how easy it has become to steal someone’s identity on the internet, especially troops. The Nigerians have begun hitting hard on that last one. As a public service, I’d like to sort of reiterate what my buddy David Sneakers has been trying to warn everyone about all this time.
The first is a company called Military Telex Communication. I wrote about this when it first started coming out last year. Telex itself is an actual company, but the scam emails claim that there is a division that handles military communications for troops in combat. This is not true. Telex does have a military branch that produces military antennas, headphones, and similar equipment, but have nothing to do with how our troops are able to call home.
Here’s how this scam works. The scammer contacts its victims through chat rooms, IM, and dating sites. They claim to be Soldiers or Marines in Iraq or Afghanistan to gain the sympathy and support of anyone willing to listen, especially women. Some claim to actually be stateside and preparing for a deployment.
They string along the individual (or most cases many individuals) until they actually “deploy” to a combat theater. Once it’s obvious that there is a pretty decent relationship developed, either romantic or friendly, the scammer will make up some story about a loss of communication. Either the scammer has recently moved to a “secure” base or the command has forced them to pay for calls themselves because of budget cuts. The only way, they say, in which they can communicate is through this Military Telex Communications company. Naturally, this service doesn’t come cheap costing anywhere between $200 and $750 initially.
Naturally, most troop supporters don’t have that kind of money to be throwing around to keep up these relationships. No problems, says the scammer. He’ll simply Western Union some money to you via a “Telex agent”. You just need to pay a small fee to pick it up. Then you can pay for the service and all is good. If you pay that fee, there will be complications and more fees with result.
The scammers are using a number of Soldiers names for this. Some recent ones include SGT Kenneth Klice, whom I’ve confirmed does not exist in the Army. Another uses the name of a SGT in the Marine Corps. These guys pluck photos off the web from Facebook, MySpace, or even DOD websites and assume these identities.
So how do you know if the person you’re talking to is really a Soldier or a scam artist from Nigeria? The most glaring would be that they ask for money to communicate. This is simply not true. Soldiers have so many options of communications in today’s combat environment, it’s unbelievable. You don’t need to send any Soldier or Marine hundreds of dollars to talk to him or him to you.
The second is how they ask for that money. It is a rare, if any, military member who will write all their emails in all CAPS. Additionally, troops don’t ask for “350usd” when they are are asking for money. WE’RE AMERICANS FOR GOODNESS SAKE!! Maybe if I were trying to scam a Japanese citizen, I’d ask for 350usd, but I still wouldn’t say it like that! If you are ever asked for any amount of money followed by “usd” cease and desist all communication. You’ve been had. Report all the communications to your nearest Secret Service office immediately, especially if you’ve actually sent money.
The third is the use of non-military email. Granted 99% of the troops in theater probably email their friends and family through Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or some other anonymous webmail service, but if you’re suspicious about this person, ask them for a .mil email address. EVERY military member in today’s military has a .mil email address. It is usually set up in basic training and, if not, immediately upon arrival at their first unit. If it is a scam, i’m willing to bet that they look for all sorts of excuses not to give you one (because they don’t have one).
While there are some complete retards and uneducated people in the military (you’re reading one right now), most Soldiers and yes, even Marines, know basic grammar. If the person you are talking to speaks in broken English and can’t put simple sentences together, it’s probably a scam. Just check out the wording of ANY Nigerian Scam email David Sneakers has put up and you’ll see what I mean.
Finally, any Soldier or Marine who says they have an “agent” or “representative” who will handle any of these dealings with money is a liar. The people that actually handle these things are one of two types of people: con artists themselves or have also been naive and are being scammed themselves. If you see something that even mentions Military Telex Communications or just Telex in an email or solicitation, just ignore them right off the bat.
If you truly want to find some troops to support, there are a number of ways to go about it without getting swindled. The first of those is a group called Soldiers Angels. They have a program where you can sign up to adopt a service member legally and ethically. They do a LOT for our troops who are deployed and can be relied on. The other group is called Adopt a Platoon. Similar to Soldiers Angels, AAP is more of a grass roots community of hard core military supporters whose sole purpose in life is to ensure that our troops are getting letters, cards, and care packages. Supporters and troops are linked up by marital status, sex, and age to the greatest extent possible.
I wholly endorse both organizations and have dealt with each in a deployed environment. They are all angels to me.
If you’re unsure if you’re being scammed, you can always email me with your communication. I’ve become sort of an expert at fishing these things out. If I can’t help you, David can!! My email address is on the sidebar.