State Warns Against Military Impersonators

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray yesterday warned consumers to watch for scammers who impersonate military members online to swindle money.

“We have recently heard of various scenarios in which con artists claim to be deployed servicemen in order to exploit well-meaning people,” Cordray said. “The stories run the gamut, from selling non-existent cars online to using dating sites to entice women into sending money. These scams are truly despicable.”

In one scam, the con man pretends to be stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or another U.S. military base. He says he will soon be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and must sell his car before he leaves. Victims of this scam think they are helping a member of the military and getting a good deal on a car. In reality, they are simply lining the pockets of a scammer because they never receive the car after wire-transferring the money.

In another version of the military ploy, scammers use online dating services to meet unsuspecting women. After wooing the victims with stories of service in Iraq or Afghanistan, these scam artists ask for money to purchase various items including laptops, plane tickets and “leave papers.” The victims transfer money but then never hear from the scammer again.

Most of these scams are difficult to detect because they take place online. The vehicle sale scam is particularly tricky because the scammers often post photos of real vehicles that actually are for sale on other online auction sites. They list the correct descriptions and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) for the vehicles. Some even send consumers e-mailed instructions that appear to be official messages from the online auction site. The messages tell consumers how to send payment and falsely claim that their purchase is guaranteed.

To avoid these scams, Attorney General Corday encourages Ohioans to never send money via wire transfer to anyone you have not met in person and to never buy a car online unless you have seen it and been allowed to test-drive it.

To report a scam or to file a consumer complaint, contact Attorney General Cordray’s office at or (800) 282-0515.

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