Catfishing, or making up a false identity on the internet to fool people, is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Now, many catfishers are posing as U.S. troops overseas to trick people into sending them large sums of money.
Many of the victims feel sympathy for these fake stories hidden behind photos of real troops that were stolen from their Facebook pages. They send these fake troops large sums of money to help them in their “time of need”
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. –
It’s hard to know if someone is who they say they are on social media. And that lack of transparency could make you a victim of a catfishing scam.
In some cases they steal your identity… in others they use a fake profile to trick you into giving up money.
When Barbara Whisman got a friend request from a US soldier, she had one thought.
“I said well, if he’s really in afghanistan then sure I’m going to support him,” said Whisman.
Pretty soon the facebook friend, who called himself Patterson Wolf was sharing sob stories about how his wife had died, and asking her for money to avoid deployment to Syria.
“I figured it out that it was a scam and I’m thinking, I’ve got to find this guy and tell this guy is doing because there’s no way that some of these women out here are not going to fall for this.”
So we searched for the real man in this photo and found Erik Wolf, a full time National Guard Soldier.
He spoke to us from his base in Oklahoma. And explained how a year ago a victim told him how she had been scammed out of $3500.
“I did a search for Erik Wolf, Afghanistan, and you know 40 plus profiles populated all various photographs and variations of my name. And that’s when I realized that this was an epidemic problem, this wasn’t just an isolated case, this thing is very systemic,” said Wolf.
Since then Wolf has worked tirelessly to report false pages and get them taken down. But new ones keep popping up on numerous social networks.
The lesson here, any photos you post online can be copied. I talked to Facebook. The company said, no privacy settings can stop that, it’s all about who you friend and how much you trust them.
And it’s up to you to look for copies, and get them taken down.
Wolf told Whisman he’s frustrated there’s only so much he can do.
“I’m very sorry that this has happened to you,” he said.
This soldier says he never imagined the online battle he’d have to fight. But he hopes by speaking out, he’ll rally the troops to join the cause.