The Facebook page of the real Major General Michael D. Dubie warns visitors that someone is using his name and photos in an Internet scam.
The Vermont general, a 32-year veteran of the National Guard and a retired commercial airline pilot, has commanded the 447th Air Expeditionary Group in Baghdad, Iraq, and has logged more than 2,000 hours at the controls of aircraft like the F-16, but he has never experienced computerized identity theft, until now.Starting on Feb. 11, Dubie's page carried his message: "It has come to my attention that there are people using my identity to solicit money on FB and Skype. I will never ask for money from anyone in cyberspace."
Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow, National Guard spokesman in Vermont, told Consumer Ally the general is devastated.
"This is very difficult for him," Goodrow said. "He would never want anybody to be a victim because of him."
According to the Guard, the general's identity was used to successfully bilk one Toronto woman -- whose name has been withheld -- of some $3,000, and the scammer(s) would have taken her for more if a London-based Western Union employee hadn't smelled something fishy about the multiple $1,500 wire transfers she was sending overseas. There were two other victims contacted, probably by the same individual(s): one in Germany and one in Taiwan.
Using Facebook and Skype -- a video and instant messaging-capable online phone service -- the scammer(s) pretended to be Dubie and asked the Toronto woman to help him send a box by international mail. The deal was that she would pony up approximately $5,000, supposedly necessary to ship the box without it being inspected. In return, she was promised a reward.
"They told her that General Dubie was going to be retiring in Montreal, in a big ceremony, and that Barack Obama was going to be there and she was going to be his guest," Goodrow said.
Now, according to Lt. Dyana Allen, the Vermont National Guard office is coordinating with the FBI, plus its own anti-terrorism officer and overseas security personnel, to track the person or persons responsible for the fraud. Allen said she pulled down three Facebook pages purporting to be Dubie's on Feb. 14, alone.
It's not the first time such a scam has happened, Allen said, based on reports from her overseas colleagues. The bottom line: Don't believe official-sounding solicitations online from people claiming to be members of the military.
"We wouldn't be contacting anybody to solicit money," said Goodrow. "Especially in an official capacity."
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