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Fake Yongsan garrison website is 'dangerous'

Sep. 3, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
A screenshot shows usafkc.org, a site Army officials say is fake and is being used to take personal information from unsuspecting visitors.
A screenshot shows usafkc.org, a site Army officials say is fake and is being used to take personal information from unsuspecting visitors. ()
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A website masquerading as the Army garrison in Yongsan, Korea’s online page is trying to snatch service members’ personal information and scam money from the lonely-hearted.

The site, “usafkc.org” appears at first blush to be the official online address for U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan but the Army says it’s a scam. The site asks visitors to submit personal information to “apply for a leave here” and “verify active U.S. military officer” status.

“The fake website requests personal information that can be dangerous and lead to identity theft and other security risks,” Col. Michael E. Masley, Yongsan garrison commander said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant to increasingly face adversaries who attempt to exploit our military personnel and networks to obtain personal information.”

The website appears to clone an earlier version of the garrison’s official website, www.usfk.mil, complete with show times for the garrison movie theater.

But try to send an email to obtain a community sponsor, and it will bring up a Gmail address instead of an official military email address, which often ends in “mail.mil.”

Most insidiously, the link to apply for leave leads to a page that asks for the soldier’s name, service ID, post, date of birth and address.

The site also asks a copy of the requester’s personal information, including their education level and income range. From there, it says the requester will receive an email asking them to send a copy of their passport or driver’s license, and $3,675 for the service member’s airline ticket and travel allowance.

The site appears to be a sophisticated extension of the common soldier romance scam, which traditionally employs, “phishing” emails and phony dating site profiles. The scammers pose as sympathetic soldiers looking for love and milk victims for cash to pay for fictitious supplies, leave papers and made-up emergencies.

Christopher Grey, Army Criminal Investigation Command’s chief of public affairs, said scammers might be using the site to appear legitimate to their unsuspecting potential victims.

“It looks like the scam we’ve been seeing for years,” Grey said.

The scams have grown more cunning as law enforcement officials have tried to educate the public about them. Grey noted that scammers have posed as Army law enforcement agents and asked victims for their personal information, promising to get their lost money back.

Yet the fake Yongsan website includes telltale signs of a scam, including references to the nonexistent and nonsensical “Intelligent Department [sic]” and “a County Clerk Militry Base in Indonesia [sic].”

Masley, of the Yongsan garrison, said the Army would monitor for other fake military sites, “to ensure readiness is never compromised and our military personnel and their family members are not exploited,”

“U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan is committed to preventing fraudulent and deceptive practices against our military community,” he said.

There are legitimate websites that may in fact request service members to input their personal information. But Masley cautioned them to ensure the web site is authentic and it is absolutely necessary to input personal information. Almost all official military sites will be under a .mil domain, he said.

Masley asked members of the military community who believe they are a victim of a phishing attack to immediately contact their chain of command to report such incidents.

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