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It was just such a picture that a reader of mine I’m calling Dede responded to when she saw it on in August. Using the images — and, often, real biographical information — they create fictitious profiles and prey on women. Although these cases do not involve CID — military personnel are not the scammers or the victims — Grey has taken it upon himself to spread the word. “I don’t want people to think a fellow service person is scamming them out of money.” The scammers typically work in teams and have different ways to extract their filthy lucre.As I outlined in two previous columns, Dede communicated via e-mail and text message for five months with a person who went by the name Mark Handle before he asked her for $3,000 to ship a box of diamonds from London. By doing a reverse image search, I found the real person in the photo: Raymond Chandler III, who recently stepped down as sergeant major of the Army. “I’ve talked to people who’ve given up to $70,000 and never met the person,” said Chris Grey of the U. Some, like Dede’s, ask for money to ship something.When I sent Dede a link to Chandler’s official Defense Department bio, she messaged back: “OMG! Others tell their victims they desperately want to meet in person but must pay to go on leave.
Photos of senior Army leaders have proved so popular that the Army’s public affairs office monitors misuse.
“They pop up in the 20s per day, usually with Facebook,” Master Sgt. Some victims have a tough time accepting that they’ve been scammed.
Said Grey: “It’s really sad, because once you tell them this person has no idea their picture’s been taken, they still want to talk to that person.
They’re emotionally attached to the thought of being in love.” Some are convinced they’ve been scammed by the person in the photograph.
Chandler said a woman in Poland went so far as to find the address of one of his adult sons and send an irate letter.
“We got the Army G-2 intelligence folks to get in contact with the Polish Embassy,” Chandler said.“They had to go physically to her and tell her to stop.” Chandler said he was concerned because at the time he was on the hit list of an al-Qaeda splinter group.Despite being happily married for 13 years, Ray Chandler is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors.Single women can find him on the dating site Date Me Mate Me.com, where he confesses to being, “Very new to this dating thing and am looking to see where this takes me.” At Fish Meet Fish.com, under the username Real Chandler, he explains, “I would love my first date to be something special.” At Girls Datefor Free.com, Chandler describes himself as being 6-2 and weighing 158 pounds.At Adult he is 5-11 and weighs a worrisome 85 pounds. “The fact that people decided to use my image for their own personal gain, it felt like I was violated,” Chandler told me last week.He is on Google+, Linked In and Facebook, where as recently as last week a Kentucky woman named Lois had posted a note: “Hi baby just calling to see what you was doing.” Literally hundreds of dating profiles and social media accounts are illustrated with photographs of the same handsome, salt-and-pepper-haired military man. He’s a high-profile example of the military romance scheme, where West Africa-based scammers scour Pentagon Web sites, Facebook pages and other social media accounts to harvest photographs of troops.