Scammer targeting local military supporters

Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 21:43:44-04

A man is using a fake military ID to target local military supporters.

This weekend, Gabriela Barrera downloaded the mobile chat app Tango because she wanted to talk with her friends and family.

Instead, one of her first messages came from a man who claimed to be a service member serving in Syria.

“He said, ‘I'm in the military. I said he was in the service too,” said Barrera.

"He" is Barrera's boyfriend, who is a Marine veteran.

As soon as the she typed that, the person told her he needed her help.

Backed by a profile photo of a man in uniform standing next to President Obama, he explained that he had been awarded a large sum of money by the government, but was about to lose it unless she could help him transfer the money into her account.

“I was suspicious, but at same time, I know how sometimes military struggles when they are away,” said Barrera.

The man said the bank required $5,000 to guarantee the transfer.

She didn't offer any money, but was willing to ask a bank what they could do to help him.

Barrera, who lives in Oceanside, asked for more information, and he sent an Otay Mesa home address and a copy of a military ID.

Right away, she saw a photoshopped date and he word “expiration” spelled “eapiration.”

Barrera also showed it to her boyfriend and it took him about two seconds to spot the scam, from a pay grade of E-15 (no such thing) to an imaginary Army rank, to the phrase,  “Armed Forces of the United State.”

“It's disgusting,” said Barrera.

Barerra reported him to the app. 

“The military fight for our freedom and sacrifice their lives and then somebody damages  the images like that.  To use military service to scam people .. makes me sick to my stomach,” said Barrera.

10News contacted Tango. The company says online safety is taken very seriously, and it will be “diligent in following up on these types of reports” to determine if the account should be suspended.