The Oklahoma Army National Guard is alerting military families about con artists stealing soldiers’ identities, posing as them, and asking for financial aid.
The Guard’s Major Geoff Legler told FOX23 News that two cases have been confirmed in recent months. Most recently, a scam artist posed a soldier trying to get home after being deployed. He stole a soldier’s picture off Facebook or another social website and started posting on the Internet for financial help to get home.
“If you have any connection with the military you know that we send all out soldiers home on our dollar,” said Major Legler. “We send them home for free after they are done being deployed.”
In another case, a scam artist targeted a fallen soldier’s family out of Oklahoma City. He pretended to be someone raising money for that family.
“These con artists are the lowest of the low,” said Major Legler.
Jane Horton is the wife of fallen Oklahoma National Guard sniper, Spc. Christopher D. Horton. Spc. Horton was killed on September 9th, 2011 in Afghanistan. Jane Horton was hurt hearing about scam artists targeting a military family who had been through what she has been going through.
“It's absolutely disgusting that they would take advantage of a military family or the family of a fallen soldier just for financial game,” said Jane Horton.
Social media challenges took her by surprise after her husband was killed.
“It is hard being the spouse of fallen soldiers,” said Horton. “As soon as the soldier dies the family will get around 1,000 new friend requests. “It's a very strange phenomenon; they like to add you on Facebook.”
She immediately started taking pictures off her account. She had to decide who to add and who to block.
“It’s hard to know who to trust,” said Horton. “They say ‘Oh I was best friends with your husband’ you get that a lot too; everyone wants to be best friends with the fallen soldier.”
Horton said she feels smart about the way she has managed her social networking sites.
“It's not just about me but it is about respecting my husband and his sacrifice and any money we do get that helps us with the funerals, I look at that like my husband paid for that with his blood,” said Horton.
The Guard encourages everyone to only accept friends who you know. Do not approve the option called “friends of friends” that would allow too many people to see your page. Horton customizes all her friends. She knows everyone who can see her Facebook page.
If you are approached by someone claiming to need money and claiming to be a soldier of the military, then find out what branch they are with and contact that branch immediately. If you need to contact the Oklahoma Army National Guard, the number is 405-228-5000.