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Lads from Lagos pose as US troops to snare unwary ladies

'Breaking hearts and bank accounts' on home front

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The Lads from Lagos have struck again, this time posing online as US servicemen at war overseas in order to become "romantically involved" with American women fond of a man in uniform and then "prey on their emotions and patriotism".

“We are seeing a number of scams being perpetrated on the internet, especially on social, dating-type websites where females are the main target,” explained Chris Grey, spokesman for the US Army Criminal Investigation Command.

“These perpetrators, often from other countries, most notably from Ghana, Angola and Nigeria, are good at what they do and quite familiar with American culture,” he added.

US military investigators say that female victims of the online scammers have been "swindled out of thousands" by the Lads, who are cutting a swathe through American womanhood "breaking hearts and bank accounts" as they go.

According to the Army detectives, a scammer will often take on the true name and rank of a US serviceman fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, generally acquiring photos from the internet to back up the imposture.

Having enticed a lady in the States into an online relationship (often including an early offer of marriage, which Grey says is highly unlikely in the case of a real US soldier) the crooks then begin to ask for money. The cash is often supposedly to be spent on phones or laptops to be used to keep in touch with the woman.

What makes US brass hats particularly cross about this is that the Lads will often falsely claim that soldiers overseas aren't allowed to make or receive phone calls or letters, or that they are denied access to their own bank accounts while in combat.

“We’ve even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to 'purchase leave papers' from the Army or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone,” said Grey.

The US Army always, of course, provides its members with a free flight home from any war it may send them to - though in some cases a posthumous one. Nor does it charge fees for leave passes or permission to marry.

Grey and his colleagues at Army CID warn that there isn't a lot they can do to stop the scams, so it's simply down to American ladies to be a bit less credulous. ®

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