After years of bad luck with dating, she, like millions of people across the globe, started using online dating sites to meet new people. A few years ago, she received what appeared to be a promising email on the dating site Match.
The man told her that he was a U. Air Force pilot deployed to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said he was a widower with an adorable daughter — the type of man and family that she'd been looking for, and most of all, he seemed very interested in Schuster.
The relationship quickly intensified, and Schuster fell hard, emailing multiple times each day. He sent her poetry and page after page of emails professing his love.
The man even sent her a few pictures dressed in his military uniform, and he was very handsome. Schuster noticed that her suitor had bad grammar, but that didn't really bother her because her immigrant father had poor grammar as well. She asked to speak with him in person or via Skype, but the man said that wasn't allowed. Image shows her scammer's profile "Soldierheart Schuster was happy to help him, excited even. The money requests didn't stop there. Shortly after the first wire transfer, the man told her that he wanted to get out of the Air Force and join some of his pilot friends in starting a private company that flies charter planes.
She was told the military wouldn't let him access his bank accounts, so he needed her help to make his dream happen. Schuster had her doubts, but said she was so scared that she might lose him that she was willing to keep wiring the money through Western Union. His office has received calls from the United States, Japan, Britain and Australia — all from women who thought they were in love with a U.
Grey says many of these criminals work out of cyber cafes in west African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana. They steal soldiers' photos from social media, create a fake backstory and profile for the photographs and then target unsuspecting women on online dating sites.
The scams tend to pick up around the holidays, Grey said, so women dating online need to be careful.
The scammer sent this image to Schuster claiming that it was her pilot. Notice that he told her that he was in the Air Force, but this is a Navy uniform. Grey said his office recently received a letter from the Sergeant of Arms for the "Senate Forces Command," but no such entity exists. Army logos, but that the dating profile may say the person is in the Navy. The military does not freeze members' bank accounts or credit cards and provides health care for deployed service members.
Schuster said she was encouraged to use personal email immediately rather than the site. The faster the scammer is off the dating site, the lower the chances of being caught using a fake profile, according to Schuster. This image was sent by the scammer showing the service member with a child that the scammer said was his daughter.
If you suspect you're being scammed, do not send money abroad and contact local authorities or postal inspectors. They may be able to trace the emailer's IP address to stop the person from playing on women's emotions to steal their savings.