08 February 2011

Fake soldiers: The latest Stolen Valor scams

A Soldier's Perspective has for a long time been tracking - and highlighting - fraud artists who present themselves as legitimate troops in order to scam unsuspecting women. The list is long of these despicable specimens taking the identity, including pictures, and presenting themselves as something they are not. These DIShonourable fraudsters spin pathetic stories, which someone unfamiliar with the military could be duped by. You can find the ASP series here.

Last month, Milblogging.com had the story of another such lowlife:

Phony Facebook user lures women using photo of fallen war hero, Sgt. Roberto Sanchez

Sunday, January 9, 2011, 07:04 AM - News Stories

SGT Robert Sanchez died Oct. 1 in Zharay district, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an IED.

The New York Post has the story of a Facebook fraud (aka Dylan Sorvino) accused of using pictures of Sgt. Roberto Sanchez (pictured above) who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, to seduce women he met online.

The real soldier's comrades and women who experienced the ruse say the Internet lothario, who claims to be fictional New Yorker "Dylan Sorvino," hijacked the memorial photos of Sgt. Roberto Sanchez, a strikingly handsome 24-year- old US Army Ranger killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2009 after five tours of duty.

You can read the rest of this latest cautionary tale at Milblogging.com here. Obviously, many real soldiers, our heroes, take someone pretending to be a soldier very seriously, and work hard at exposing these impostors, who even stoop to stealing the valour, the honour, of our fallen heroes.

Military bloggers always shine the spotlight on these scum, and This Ain't Hell has also quite the ongoing 'file.' They actually have one up just yesterday:

Decades of stolen valor

Terry Fredricks has been regaling the Farmington, NM folks with the tales of his daring-do over the Pacific and China a member of the famed “Black Sheep” squadron. The problem is that the Marine Corps never heard of him and he was too young to have served as a pilot any-damn-way;

Terry explained to us that any attempt since the theft to recover his most important records were futile because of a massive fire some years ago in St. Louis that destroyed many such documents.

We were aware of that fire from previous research over the years and knew that such a fire did occur.

However, once we further pursued Terry’s claim about his own documents, military officials told us that in that fire, records attached to the Marine Corps were not among those destroyed ...

And yes, TAH has more here.

As well as exposing these creeps, there have been ongoing efforts to exact legal retribution from these criminals. The Stolen Valor Act, in theory, is supposed to act as legal redress to restore the honour of our heroes whose honour has been dragged through the mud by charlatans not fit to lick their boots.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 20, 2006, is a U.S. law that broadens the provisions of previous U.S. law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, sale or claim (either written or oral) of any military decorations and medals. It is a federal misdemeanor offense, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for no more than 1 year and/or a fine; the scope previously covered only the Medal of Honor.

The Act was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 19, 2005, by Representative John Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, as H.R. 3352. It was introduced into the Senate by Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, on November 10, 2005, as S. 1998. The Senate version was passed unanimously on September 7, 2006. The Senate version then went to the same House Judiciary Committee that held the House version. The Act briefly stalled, but the House subsequently passed the Senate version, S. 1998, on December 6, 2006...

More at Wiki here.

American milbloggers have followed nationwide efforts to convict some of these infamous ne'er-do-wells, and courts across the land have rendered differing opinions and verdicts. In California last year:

Appeals court rules Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional

August 18, 2010|By Bill Mears, CNN

Lying about military honors is not a crime, a federal appeals court has ruled, tossing out the prosecution of a California public official who falsely claimed to have won the prestigious Medal of Honor.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 there was inadequate "compelling governmental interest" when Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2006.

Xavier Alvarez had won a seat on the Three Valley Water District Board of Directors in 2007, and at his first open meeting claimed to be a retired Marine who won the Medal of Honor in 1987. The highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government is sometimes mistakenly called the Congressional Medal of Honor. "I got wounded many times by the same guy," Alvarez declared, according to court records. "I'm still around."..(CNN here)

A Virginia court last month decided that the Stolen Valor Act IS constitutional. From TAH:

Virginia District Court Finds Stolen Valor Act Constitutional

District Judge James Jones, ruling in the Western District of Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division ruled that the SVA is constitutional.

In a concise ruling, he found:

Preventing individuals from wearing honors they did not earn furthers a substantial government interest in honoring specified members of the military and preserving the respect and novelty of legitimate military decorations. The statute’s purpose is not related to the suppression of free speech, and incidental restrictions on freedom are no greater than is essential for the furtherance of that purpose.

The story of Ronnie L. Robbins is like so many before it:

[The Indictment] alleges that Robbins served in the United States Army on active duty from 1972 to 1975, but did not serve overseas or in any combat capacity and was not awarded or entitled to any medals or awards related to such service...

Read the rest of this story here. These are just a few examples of this disgraceful, ongoing dishonouring of our honourable servicemembers. The judicial system may be divided on what constitutes stolen valour, but our legitimate troops and those who love and support them, have absolutely no doubt at all. Check out ReportStolenValor.org

The truth is out there, and through the internet, American Legions, and of course, the tireless efforts of veterans, milbloggers, there are not enough rocks for these cretins to hide under. Eventually, their nefarious, immoral misdeeds see the light of day.

Be informed.

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