With the advent of online dating, the term “catfish” has emerged. If you’ve been catfished, this means that the person you’ve been dating online turns out to be someone else and not who they said they were. Popularized by the MTV series “Catfish”, this phenomenon isn’t going away anytime soon.
It happens with people pretending to be service members while dating online, as well, preying on naiive men and women who are desperate for love and want to believe they’re dating an honorable soldier in the military. Yet, many are asking, how do I know if a soldier is real?
Well, first of all, many people say that if you have to question it, you probably already know the answer. Still, far too many people fall into this trap and delude themselves into thinking that they love this person and that this could never happen to them.
How Do I Know If a Soldier is Real?
There are some surefire ways to know if a soldier you met online is real or not. If you’re worried that your Army guy or gal is a fake, consider that if any of the following have happened to you, you’ll want to get out – and fast!
They ask you for money.
First and foremost, if a so-called soldier is asking you for money, it’s a scam. There is a long list of reasons why the person you’re talking could be asking for money and none of them are legitimate – from getting a plane ticket to needing a phone line to paying for internet access.
All of these reasons are lies. When on deployment, the military pays for soldiers to have everything they need including internet access, phone service, and travel to and from their deployment locations.
Point-blank: There is absolutely no reason a service member should be asking you for money and this should be the biggest red flag that you’re, unfortunately, involved in a scam.
They claim to be in Special Forces.
Scammers will often claim to be in Special Forces like Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, or Delta Force and so they’re unable to disclose their “secret mission”. Let’s just say that if their mission was so secret, why would they be telling you anything at all? Especially if you’ve never met.
The soldiers in Special Forces are often the most patriotic and take their jobs incredibly serious out of anyone in the military. If they were truly part of one of those groups, there’s no way you’d know anything about their involvement. Take this as a sign that you’re being lied to.
They don’t have a military email address or an APO physical address.
Just to be clear, all military members have an email address that ends in .mil, so if they can’t give you a verified email address with that ending, you should be concerned.
Plus, if the person you’re dating can’t give you a physical address claiming that they’re deployment makes it impossible to receive physical mail, they’re lying. People will usually say this when you suggest a care package instead of a money transfer. On deployment, service members have an APO address where they can receive physical packages. Don’t fall for the scam that money sent online is the only way to help.
They claim all of their close relatives are dead.
Many scammers pretending to be soldiers will try to tug on your heart strings by claiming that all their close family and friends are dead and you’re the only one out there who could possibly help them. While there are people out there who have truly tragic conditions, it’s very unlikely that soldiers have no one to turn to.
There are lots of programs within the military to help soldiers and especially while on active duty, service members are pretty well-taken care of. Saying that everyone around them is dead is just trying to toy with your emotions as a compassionate person. Resist the sob story!
They don’t have access to their bank account.
It’s definitely a bad sign if your military lover is asking for your bank account details claiming that they don’t have access to their own. No matter where they are in the world, soldiers are able to get into their bank accounts and make any purchase they desire. You should be super skeptical of anyone requesting your bank details.
They’ve been deployed for over two years.
Usually, service members are only deployed for about seven months to a year at any given time. There have been instances where someone might be deployed for up to 15 months but those are extreme circumstances. After all, soldiers have human rights too and a deployment of two years or more would be making national news.
If you’re being told that a service member is being shipped from one war zone to another without any R&R for years and years and that’s why they haven’t been able to see you, they’re not who they say they are and you should really move on.
They can’t give you the name of their unit or MOS.
Another way you can check if a soldier is real is by asking the name of their unit. Where are they located when not deployed? This information is public so you can look everything up and potentially catch them in a lie.
You can also ask what he or she does in the military and what their MOS is. It’s best to do this over the phone, if you can, so you can see in real-time if they’re taking a while to answer the question. A real soldier knows their MOS (a number followed by a letter like E5) like the back of their hand and if it’s not a quick answer, you can assume they’re a fake.
They need your request to get leave.
According to military spouses everywhere, there’s never a time when their partners need their signature on anything. If the person you’re dating online claims that they need you to request something from their commander or that they need your signature, it’s not the truth.
They have a high rank and are under 30.
If the person you’ve been talking to says they’re a general while also being 28 years old, alarms should be going off in your head. First of all, less than 1% of officers make it to that rank at all and it requires 20 years of service, so… it’s impossible.
But, let’s say they’re in their 40s and claiming to be a general. Generals on average make $12,000 per month in base pay alone. So, they’re not needing for money. Plus, with such busy and important jobs, it’s doubtful that you’ll find a general spending all their time talking to you through a dating website.
Verify a Soldier is Real
In conclusion, you can verify that a soldier is real or fake by:
- Not sending money and seeing what happens
- Asking for their military email address without them being able to give you one
- Asking for their APO address without them being able to give you one
- Asking for their rank and MOS and getting a delayed response
- Searching for them on the Defense Manpower Data Center’s Military Verification service
Overall, be safe, be smart, and do all these things to check if a soldier is real before you take anything further.