A Facebook friend contacted me over the weekend about a conversation she had with a soldier online. Remembering that I had spend a bit of time in the military, she asked for my advice.
Apparently, this soldier was (of course) with special forces, and he was stationed in Africa somewhere. His son, who was there in Africa with him because he was a single father, was having some medical problems and the military medical insurance wasn’t going to pay for his medicine to the tune of $700. And because he was out in the middle of Africa, he didn’t have access to his military pay.
For anyone who has spent more than two minutes in the military, alarm klaxons are probably going off in your head right now. Sadly, many of our civilian counterparts may not know of the immediate inconsistencies with this story that make it so obviously a scam.
This is what makes such a scam so easy to accomplish. While many civilians may not know the ins-and-outs of military service, most are very pro-military and would do anything they could to help out.
As this was the second time within as many months having a friend reach out to me about something similar, I thought I would take a moment to help non-military folks quickly figure out this type of scam.
First, the scammer is going to always say that they are some sort of special forces, whether it be a Navy SEAL, Air Force Paratrooper or Army Green Beret. If they don’t specifically mention one of those, the scammer might say they can’t tell you their job because it is “classified.”
This should put up a red flag: While I was never in any form of special forces, I have known a few. They usually don’t spend a lot of time while deployed in places with easy access to the internet, so they’re unlikely to be on social media.
Secondly, there are not a lot of places outside of the continental United States where our service members can take their family members. None of those places are in Africa or the Middle East. Most places where families are allowed to go with their service member are in Japan or Europe. And single parents must have a plan in place to care for their children in the event of a deployment.
Lastly, military medical insurance covers the cost of medications, surgeries and all care for military dependants. For service members deployed overseas with their families, the military even pays to send dependents to the United States in the rare case of a medical emergency that cannot be handled by overseas medical facilities.
So be careful, and try not to fall for one of these scams. There are a lot of criminals out there who like to take advantage of the kindness and generosity of the American public.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.