Bogus reporter near Aviano seeking personal data
November 15, 2006
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Base authorities are urging Americans who live in off-base housing communities to watch out for a man who isn’t whom he claims to be.
The man, described as white and in his mid- to late 30s, has identified himself as a reporter for Air Force Times or Stars and Stripes while asking Americans for personal information, including financial data.
“We have gotten reports that he’s said both,” said Tech. Sgt. Jerome Baysmore from the 31st Fighter Wing public affairs office.
Capt. Melissa Waheibi, chief of public affairs, said that the Air Force Times has denied sending anyone into Italy during the October time frame. Stars and Stripes has a reporter assigned to Aviano, but he was not in the area during the reported incidents.
“Stars and Stripes has absolutely no connection with the individual alleged in these incidents,” said Managing Editor Doug Clawson. “The newspaper would never ask for personal financial data from anyone.”
The local Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment has received five reports of the man engaging with Americans, Baysmore said. All of the meetings reportedly came from the small U.S. housing community in Vigonovo.
Authorities declined to provide more information about the suspect, citing an ongoing investigation.
“We’re still trying to verify who this guy is,” Baysmore said.
Attempts to contact any of those filing the reports were not successful.
Baysmore said the man wasn’t acting violently and it’s unclear if he is breaking any laws or regulations by passing himself off as someone he’s not. But base officials want to know what he’s doing.
At least one group commander, Col. Michael Schaffrinna of the 31st Medical Group, has warned his airmen about the incidents in a mass e-mail. He suggested that those who are approached use caution and ask for proper identification.
Baysmore said those coming into contact with the individual should contact authorities at 0434-30-7200. He also said those living off base need to use common sense and “not invite anyone into your home you don’t know.”