A soldier has spoken out after his picture was used to perpetrate a $130,000 online dating scam.
Divorcee Emily Thompson signed up to dating platform Match.com in January this year, and in March met a man on the site named Robert Parker.
Thompson believed that Parker was serving in the Special Forces in Cairo, and after retiring was planning on returning home to live in Dallas.
But on his way back to the US, Parker told Thompson that he had been held in customs at a Dubai airport and needed cash to pay for paperwork.
Thompson then sent a wire transfer of $131,000 to Citibank in New York, but when her friend checked out Parker and his financial institutions, she realised the man had not been legitimate.
Thompson said: “I lost $131,000, which was a lot of the money that I’ve saved up in the last 17 years since my divorce.”
And the man whose photo was used in the dating scam has now spoken to Central Georgia news station 13wmaz, saying his photos are regularly used in dating scams.
The unnamed soldier said: “The pictures came from Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012. Our battalion created a Facebook page to let our family and friends keep up to date with what we’re doing, where we’re at.”
He believes someone must have saved the photo album, and his pictures, as he hears from a dating fraud victim “every few months”.
The man, who lives in Illinois, said: “When, you know, your wife gets text messages or Facebook messages from a random woman saying: “I saw this on Match.com…those are definitely the most rough.”
In response to the story, Match Group-owned Match.com released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened to hear about these crimes, and our thoughts go out to the victims.
“At Match, the safety and well-being of our community is a top priority, and we take the issue of fraud very seriously.
“We understand that sophisticated criminals prey on individuals in every corner of the web, and we diligently address it on the site and app, tracking, monitoring and working to prevent fraud every step of the way using technology that identifies possible fraudulent behaviour such as unusual communication patterns and suspicious photos and profiles.
“Unfortunately, in cases such as these, criminals encourage users to communicate off of Match’s platform as quickly as possible, giving us limited visibility into their behaviour.
“However, while reprehensible, financial fraud can still be prevented.
“We work to constantly educate our members throughout their Match experience, with safety tips, when members are communicating with each other, and with a mandatory pledge to never give out any financial information to anyone over the internet.
“As long as our members follow our safety tips, these kinds of things cannot happen. We encourage all daters to review our tips for dating safely here.”