Fraud & Scams

How to Avoid Military Romance Scams

Cameron Huddleston
Cameron Huddleston
January 31, 2024
How to Avoid Military Romance Scams

If you meet a military service member online looking for love, be wary. It could be a scam.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers have been posing as members of the U.S. Armed Forces and striking up relationships with people online in an effort to con them out of money. Here’s what to know about this romance scam and how to avoid it.

How military romance scams work

Scammers find photos of service members that are published online by official sources, such as the Department of Defense. Then, they use the photos but alter the names to create fake online dating and social media profiles, according to the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attaché Office, which regularly receives reports from people who have established relationships with these scammers they believe are service members. 

Once they establish relationships, scammers ask for money to pay for food, medical care, care packages or flights home, according to the DAO and FTC. They might also claim that they need cash to pay fees for a leave request to visit you or that you have to pay for the leave request. However, there are no fees involved with requesting leave, according to the DAO.

Sometimes, scammers even will send what look like official documents to place a leave request for them. These documents tend to ask for extensive personal information. However, this sort of information isn’t required for a service member to take leave, according to the DAO, which provides examples of fake leave requests on its website.

How to avoid military romance scams

Be wary of anyone you meet online claiming to be a military service member overseas. Romance scammers often claim to be living in another country to avoid requests to meet in-person. They also tend to escalate relationships quickly but say that they can’t call because there isn’t a phone on their base that they can use. 

If you’ve struck up a relationship online with someone claiming to be a service member, take these steps to protect yourself if it's a scam.

Do a reverse image search of the service member’s photo by going to, clicking on the camera icon and pasting the image url or uploading the image from your computer to see what name or names are commonly associated with the image. If more than one name is associated with the image, it’s a red flag.

Don’t send money, gift cards or cryptocurrency to someone you haven’t met in-person or spoken with on the phone. Service members don’t have to pay to receive gift packages, get medical care or to take leave, according to the FTC. 

Don’t share sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number or account numbers, with someone you’ve met online. According to the DAO, family and friends don’t have to request leave on behalf of a service member or provide extensive personal information for a leave request. 

Consider whether the story you’re being told makes sense. For example, some scammers impersonating service members have claimed that the Army won’t allow them to access their personal accounts or credit cards, according to the DAO. A story like that simply isn’t true.

Talk to someone you trust. Before sending anyone money, reach out to a friend, family member or someone in the financial services industry to help you evaluate the situation.

[ Keep Reading: A New Twist on Romance Scams ]

Cameron Huddleston

Cameron Huddleston

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