The first hint that Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sam Aldrich was an unwitting player in a Facebook military romance scam was a doctored image of him with a Filipina woman he had never met.
Aldrich — a cybersecurity airman stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — discovered in March that a scammer had obtained photos posted before 2014, when his Facebook profile was less secure.
The con artist, apparently based in the United Arab Emirates, used the images to create a fake account in the name of “Fred Aldrich,” then posed as a U.S. airman to woo women overseas and trick them into sending money.
Online military romance scams are so commonplace that military officials have posted warnings to civilians not to fall for them.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command warns people involved in online dating to proceed with caution when corresponding with those claiming to be U.S. soldiers serving overseas.
CID receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims of people they met online who claimed to be soldiers, according to a warning on the CID website.