Online scammers impersonating military service members - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Online scammers impersonating military service members

(WAFF) -

If you get a friend request or message on Facebook from a high-ranking military official, it's probably fake.

There's a rise in people impersonating military members on social media. But steps are being taken to prevent it and protect you.

Last year, the Department of Defense dealt with hundreds of cases of cyber impostors. People take the names and photos of real military members to try and scam others out of money.

"As soon as an account is removed, a new one can be created. It's a never-ending cycle. But we really need people to report and work with us on this,” said AMC's cyber division chief, Dawn Dunkerley.

She said impostors are being bold and targeting high-ranking officials.

Some of the impostors are looking for fame, or maybe trying to trick someone into romance, but most want to scam you out of your money.

"What they end up doing is trying to use that trust relationship to develop relationships with people and maybe send money, for example," said Dunkerley.

The impostors take advantage of unsuspecting victims on social media, but there are signs to look for to spot impostor accounts.

"The account is brand-new, is a high-ranking official and is not verified. The account has just a few photos and all uploaded roughly the same time. Official accounts don't reach out and try to friend you and add you to their friends list. If you get a friend request from these accounts, very likely, it's not a legitimate account," said Dunkerley.

If you think you've spotted one of these fake accounts, Dunkerley says to contact the social media company, and if you work for the government, contact your security personnel.

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