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Fort Bragg Officials Warn of Military Scam

Posted June 1, 2007

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— It's a military spouse's worst nightmare – getting word that their soldier has been injured or killed at war.

And now, scam artists are taking advantage of that fear.

Kristine Poirier is stressed out. Her husband is just days away from deploying, leaving her and their 9-month-old daughter, Jacqueline, alone.

Knowing that someone could prey on her distress is upsetting.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “Our troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else fighting and to be taken advantage of like that really hurts."

But con artists are counting on wives like Kristine to give out personal information in a weak moment.

Pretending to work for the Red Cross, they have called several families, saying their soldier has been injured in Iraq. Before that soldier can get treatment, the caller asks to verify his or her social security number and date of birth.

It's a scam that sickens many at Fort Bragg.

"Playing off the emotions of a soldier's family while they're deployed is despicable and outright cruel,” said Tom McCollum, 18th Airborne Corps spokesman.

Outraged Fort Bragg leaders are spreading the word. They want to make sure families know about the scam and understand how the notification process really works.

If a soldier is injured at war, the family will be notified by that soldier himself, his commander or someone in his chain of command. Family will be notified by the casualty notification office if the soldier has died, according to Fort Bragg officials.

The Red Cross never contacts a family to inform them of an injury. They offer assistance after notification has been made.

Soldiers also fill out pre-deployment information sheets, which includes their social security number and other personal information. The Army has their information ready in case something happens and wouldn’t need to ask family members.

Every unit at Fort Bragg holds a pre-deployment meeting with soldiers and their spouses to inform them about how to be safe at home while the soldier is away. They talk about operational security and not giving out information that could put them or their soldier at risk.

Family Readiness Groups are there for spouses, too. Lois Stubbs is an FRG leader. She instructs families not to give personal details to anyone. But when emotions are flying, she can understand why they falter.

"I can see how you could be in such a state of shock, in a split second you make a wrong decision and give out information,” Stubbs said.

So far, the scam hasn't hit Fort Bragg, but the Red Cross has sent warnings out to all 769 Red Cross chapters nationwide.

Giving out false information concerning soldiers at war is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

11 Comments

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  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Jun 3, 2007

    Scam artists, meet my best friend, Fist

    There are good reasons why some people burn in hell. This is a perfect example.

    I have a better idea, if these scumbags could ever be caught, I think they should be used as target practice for the soldiers relative/spouse who they called and lied to. The only problem I see with them serving a tour in combat is they might make it back. Letting the military use them as target practice will make sure they don't ever pull such a stunt again.

    Amen to all of the above!!!!

  • Steve Crisp Jun 3, 2007

    Sorry thatgirlyeahher, but if your spouse is in the military, it is your responsibility to know and understand the protocol for notification. And any variance to that established protocol should ring alarm bells. Loudly.

  • Tell it like it is Jun 3, 2007

    I have a better idea, if these scumbags could ever be caught, I think they should be used as target practice for the soldiers relative/spouse who they called and lied to. The only problem I see with them serving a tour in combat is they might make it back. Letting the military use them as target practice will make sure they don't ever pull such a stunt again.

  • thatgirlyeahher Jun 2, 2007

    I don't think it's fair to label military spouses/families as 'stupid' for falling for this. Have you ever had a family member overseas? Have you ever gotten that call, real or fake, stating your spouse, etc has been hurt/killed? You can't say how you'd respond in a situation like that, hence why these scumbags are targeting these families.
    I agree with the first couple of commenters as to what should be done to this pieces of work if they are ever caught.

  • gnew46 Jun 1, 2007

    Scum bags!!

  • Steve Crisp Jun 1, 2007

    Yet I am still struck that there are people stupid enough to fall for these scams over and over again. I don't care whether it's this one or a Nigerian money transfer, or a bank error notification, or a send me back the difference between this certified check and the purchase price scam, someone really has to be amazingly stupid to fall for them.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't hunt down the scammers and make them eat their own spleens after we extract those organs via existing body holes that spleens were never meant to go through.

  • Living and Loving in NC Jun 1, 2007

    There are good reasons why some people burn in hell. This is a perfect example.

  • BridgeBuilder Jun 1, 2007

    NC_Vet - Nothing more needs to be said...great post.

    historians4th - I agree with one addition...make them bullet stoppers to protect a real soldier.

  • historians4th Jun 1, 2007

    If caught they should be made to serve a three year tour in combat, so they'll aquire an appreciation for what a soldier and their family experience.

  • NC_VET Jun 1, 2007

    If they arrest these scum bags let the guys of the 82nd have
    a few minutes with them in a locked room. These are the lowest
    type of scum bags. I pray they get caught and taught a lesson
    that they will never forget.

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