Fort Jackson warns of graduation scams
By Robert TimmonsFebruary 19, 2021
For years, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, more commonly known as CID, has warned people to be wary of internet romance scams, where unscrupulous criminals try to bilk the lonely of money by posing as service members in combat zones overseas.Fort Jackson’s social media management recently called on the Families of Initial Entry Training Soldiers to be wary of a different scam – a hoax where fake links to training graduations are posted on unofficial Facebook pages.Do not click on these links, said LaTrice Langston, Fort Jackson Social Media Manager. “They are trying to steal your valuable personal information.”These links pop-up innocuously in various posts enticing viewers to click on links to graduation live streams. The links lead to pages where viewers are asked to register and/or to pay to watch the ceremony.This scam is a variant of Facebook phishing, where users click on the imposter graduation link and are prompted to log in. Criminals steal personal information, or credentials, including email addresses after a user logs in to the fake ceremony.“We will never charge you to view a Basic Combat Training graduation or any ceremony that we live stream on our social media sites,” Langston said. She has repeated the information multiple times during the installation’s biweekly virtual town halls.She added there are warning signs to look for.“They have become sophisticated in trying to appear real,” Langston said. “They will do everything they can to mimic the Fort Jackson social media pages. To minimize the confusion Fort Jackson has discontinued creating events for upcoming Basic Combat Training graduations and providing the links to live streaming events. The thing to remember is that Fort Jackson’s pages, including battalion and unit pages, are not creating these links and will not post a link in the comment section of a status update – so if you see a link in the comments, you automatically know it is a fake link.”Hackers are also creating fake profiles to entice users. These profiles appear legitimate, but are not validated by the social media platform.“If you see these links report them to Facebook right away,” Langston said, “and definitely do not click on the link.”“While some of the Fort Jackson unit pages have yet to be verified, the Fort Jackson Facebook page is verified,” she added. “When in doubt, Family members and supporters should cross-reference information by what is posted on the official Fort Jackson Facebook page. Links to official battalion and unit pages may be located in the Weekly Update, published to the official Fort Jackson Facebook page every Monday.”Users can check the validity of the link by checking to see if the account is verified or not. A blue check mark appears next to the page’s name to indicate that it is authentic and verified by Facebook.She also called on users to report imposter profiles of government officials immediately.These are sometimes used in the romance scams CID warned about.The CID website, www.cid.army.mil/romancescam.html, offered a list of things to look for with potential scams:1. Soldiers and their loved ones are not charged money so that the Soldier can go on leave.2. No one is required to request leave on behalf of a Soldier.3. A general officer will not correspond with you on behalf of a Soldier planning to take leave.4. A general officer will not be a member of an internet dating site.5. Soldiers are not charged money or taxes to secure communications or leave.6. Soldiers do not need permission to get married.7. Soldiers do not have to pay for early retirement.8. Soldiers have medical insurance for themselves and their immediate Family members (spouse and/or children), which pays for their medical costs when treated at health care facilities worldwide - Family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses.9. Military aircraft are not used to transport privately owned vehicles.10. Army financial offices are not used to help Soldiers buy or sell items of any kind.11. Soldiers deployed to combat zones do not need to solicit money from the public to feed or house their troops.12. Deployed Soldiers do not find large sums of money and do not need your help to get that money out of the country.Users who have their identities stolen or are victim of a romance scam, can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership) online at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx; to the Federal Trade Commission online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft; or by mailing Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580. The ID theft can also be reported by calling (877) ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY at (866) 653-4261.