The Military’s Big Problem With Facebook Love Scams | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

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Daniel Anonsen grew up in suburban Maryland with a goal like many other young boys. “I wanted to be in the military since the day I could remember,” he said. So when the burly teenager graduated from high school in 2006, he immediately entered boot camp for the Marine Corps.

By that time, Facebook had already swept college campuses, and it was just opening to the wider world. The social network was adopted quickly in the military, and it offered Anonsen a way to keep in touch with home as he was deployed to Afghanistan, Japan and South Korea. As he climbed the ranks and made progress in the gym — and the tattoo parlor — he posted photos of himself pumping iron and flexing his “Semper Fi” tattoo. “It was the root of what Facebook was going for, which was a place to connect, and I thought that was cool,” he said.

Then, in 2010, Anonsen discovered hundreds of unsolicited messages from women he had never met — online or in real life. “These women were saying: ‘We’ve been communicating for months. What’s going on? Where are you? I miss you. I love you.’”

Confused, he searched his name on Facebook and found dozens of impostors. The accounts used photos of him at the gym, at his brother’s wedding and at war. He reported the fakes to Facebook, which said in automated responses that many didn’t violate its rules. When the company did remove some of the knockoffs, more popped up in their place.

I met Anonsen while reporting Sunday’s special hourlong episode of “The Weekly,” a new television show from The Times, about online scammers using military identities to steal money from unsuspecting civilians on social media. While there are no figures for how many service members have been affected, the F.B.I. said it received nearly 18,500 complaints from victims of romance or similar internet scams last year, with reported losses exceeding $362 million, up 71 percent from 2017.

When Facebook did little to stop the spread of fake accounts using Anonsen’s information and photos, he went to his platoon commanders and later his battalion’s intelligence officers. “I let them work their military-intelligence magic, and I went back to them, and they’re like: ‘We can’t do anything about it, man. It’s out of our hands,’” he recalled. “I thought military intelligence would be able to type a couple of zeros and ones and it would all go away, but it’s not that simple.”

Anonsen, 31, separated from the Marine Corps last year, and though he abandoned Facebook and Instagram in 2017, his impostors have remained on the sites. He worries this digital reputation could affect his career prospects. He got a job as a commercial diver aboard a ship in the Gulf of Mexico, but he’s still looking over his shoulder.

“The worst thing to ever think of is sitting down at dinner with my wife and someone just approaching me and just going after me,” he said. “I think about it regularly when I’m out.”

Watch this week’s episode of “The Weekly” on FX at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central, and streaming on Hulu starting Monday. If you’ve been affected by a similar Facebook scam, email your experience to

That’s the total number of claims filed with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund since it reopened in 2011. Of the 47,000 claims filed by emergency workers who’ve sustained illnesses from their exposure to deadly toxins at ground zero, about 22,400 have been awarded, and of those, 45 percent are because of cancer diagnoses. An additional 17,000 claims remain under review. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 97 to 2 in favor of legislation that will ensure the V.C.F. is funded over the next seven decades. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump. Read the story here. Jake Nevins, Times Magazine fellow

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