ARLINGTON, Va. — An offer for free tickets to theme parks for servicemembers turned out to be an e-mail scam, which turned out to be a security exercise run by the Army.

But no one apparently told Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command that it was part of this charade masquerading as a scam.

The e-mail, sent by MWR-Man, allegedly came from the “Army MWR Office,” and directed servicemembers and Defense Department civilians to the following Web site to receive free tickets:

As of early Monday, the Web site asked for personal information, such as name, address, phone number and e-mail address.

But it was all a lie, said Bill Bradner, a spokesman for Family and MWR Command.

“This is a scam, a phishing site using our logo, header, and links to our Web site,” Bradner said in an e-mail Monday. “It has nothing to do with us.”

Family and MWR Command issued a news release Monday afternoon warning servicemembers that the offer for free tickets did not come from the command, but then the story took an unexpected turn.

Late Monday afternoon, the site had a different message:

“This web page was part of an Army Network Security Exercise and is no longer active. No actual data was collected or transmited (sic). Further information about this test is at the following link: TBA”

Bradner said he later learned the Web site was in fact a test to see how soldiers respond to phishing scams.

The test was conducted by U.S Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), said Laurie Pugh, head spokeswoman for Family and MWR Command.

Pugh said Family and MWR Command had no knowledge of the test, which NETCOM told her about on Tuesday.

“We were concerned that we had not been brought into the loop on it,” she said. “We understand the need for testing security and wished we had known about it.”

She also said she was told the test is part of a larger effort across the Defense Department.

Family and MWR Command expected to issue a news release about the exercise Tuesday afternoon, Pugh said.

Bob Stone, a spokesman for INSCOM, had no information immediately available on the matter Tuesday afternoon, but he said he would look into it.

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