Unfortunately dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have become a hotbed (pun only mildly unintended)
of scammers and criminals looking to separate you from your money or worse. There was a time I
would report the offending profiles to the app owners until I realized it did no good because these
scammers are the ones most routinely paying for the feature of using any zip code they want thereby
incentivizing the apps to allow the bad behavior.
What is most alarming to me, as evidenced by this article, is the number
of scammers using military photos scraped from other sites to perpetrate their deceptions. The reason for
that is simple; if you match with one of these profiles they can either claim to be currently or soon
thereafter to be deployed. This makes them unavailable to meet and opens doors to requests that sound
reasonable to anyone not having ties and information about how the military works. It also builds in a
plausible buffer for the time zones that are inevitable because of the scammers being in other countries.
As a veteran myself, I want to offer you a few tips that if the woman in that article had known would
have quickly alerted her to the problems she was about to face.
One of the first red flags for me is that many times these guys don’t know how to speak proper English
including the inability to spell the word Sergeant. One time I asked a match what branch they were in
and he listed three.
They will often claim to hold ranks (military positions or titles) far beyond what their age or time in
service would likely allow. A 30-year-old is not very likely to be a Colonel;
this chart gives a good guideline to the average ages of the various ranks across service branches. You can also refer to
this page for links to full charts of the insignia for the various branches.
I recently saw a profile where the guy claimed to be a sergeant, but the uniform he was wearing had officer bars. They will also occasionally
list ranks that are fictional or only exist in foreign militaries.
Their profiles tend to go straight for what they believe to be hot button topics. They reference God,
children, true love or other things someone might be searching for. They frequently have pictures with
expensive vehicles or other indications of money trying to convince you they are able to support you in
comfort. Very few military men are well off, particularly younger or enlisted ones. Initial conversations often mention the
untimely loss of their wife or some other heartstring pulling tale.
Once they think they have you sufficiently hooked they will ask for money to get home from wherever
they are. This next line is important:
A MILITARY MEMBER NEVER NEEDS TO ASK A STRANGER FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES.
If for some reason they are on leave and get stuck somewhere , Uncle Sam will bring them back even if
it means docking their pay later. DO NOT SEND MONEY TO ANYONE CLAIMING TO BE
There are probably many other examples I’m forgetting at the moment, but I have included some
The thing that jumps out about this one is that he claims to be
the "comandante". First, in English it would be spelled "Commandant"; second, the Commandant of West Point is a prestigious position,
and there exists only one at any given time; you can find out the current one with a quick Google search or looking up West Point on
This one claims to be a "Senior Sergeant", a fictional rank. Also,
few soldiers would phrase it as oddly as "at United States Soldier". They would say United States Army, US Army, their unit or base.
Another give away would be someone claiming to be "United States Military"; military is a generic term describing all of the armed
forces, and most that serve or have served, are going to explicitly name their branch of service.