1st AD used in latest version of Internet scam
September 1, 2006
BAGHDAD — The Army’s storied 1st Armored Division has finally hit the big time — with Internet scam artists.
In the latest twist to a long-running and ever-morphing Nigerian “419” scam, a purported 1st AD soldier in Iraq needs your help — “good partner!” — in securing $8.5 million of Saddam Hussein’s money. In return, of course, you get a 30 percent cut.
The scam e-mail making the rounds is attributed to a Sgt. Irvin Shawn, and reads in part, “This business is confidential, and it should not be discussed with anyone. There is no risk involved whatsoever … Can I trust you?”
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Division, the e-mail is a slight twist on recent attempts to use troops in Iraq as bait. FBI statistics show hundreds of people fall for the scams every year, spurred by greed, generosity or naïveté.
The scams largely originated in Nigeria, but have since been adopted by con men throughout the world. Victims are lured into giving personal information and bank account numbers.
In a warning message on its Web site, the FBI says “multiple” hoaxes “preying on Americans’ emotions for U.S. deployed soldiers” have been reported; they ask that new instances be reported to the Internet crime task force.
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division are deployed in Ramadi and Baghdad, but there is no Sgt. Irvin Shawn in the U.S. Army, according to a search on the Army Knowledge Online Web site.
Another of the recent scams involves a long tale about a U.S. soldier killed in combat and requests donations to an orphanage.
FBI officials have also recently warned of scams popping up on popular sites such as MySpace.com. Scam artists will create fake profiles, invite others to become their virtual friends, then sometimes direct them to sites that contain data-mining viruses.
Users of sites like MySpace are particularly susceptible because legitimate use of the sites encourages posting of personal information, Internet security experts say.