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Military public relations often post information on soldiers without mentioning their families or personal lives, so images are stolen from these websites by organized internet crime gangs often operating out of Nigeria or Ghana.
These scammers tell their victims that they are lonely, or supporting an orphanage with their own money, or needing financial assistance because they can't access their own money in a combat zone, etc.
Scammers prefer to use the images, names and profiles of soldiers as this usually inspires confidence, trust and admiration in their female victims.
Upon finding a target, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, such as providing an e-mail address or phone number, to continue the deception.
The fraud typically involves the scammer acting as if they've quickly fallen for the victim.
This creates a false sense of attachment on the victim's part that so that the victim feels guilty refusing the scammer's requests for money.
In 2016, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation received reports about more than US 0 million being lost by victims of relationship scams.