In America, we tend to have a certain view of our military men and women. Whether you agree with whatever conflict we’re involved in or not, there is a general consensus that soldiers are brave, self-sacrificing, and honest. A lot of people put faith into the idea that all soldiers will follow the tenets of their branch. Eg; the Army Values are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal-courage.
Unfortunately, as sites like www.stolenvalor.com have shown us, there are many people out there who are very willing to pretend they have ever put on a uniform just so they can defraud people.
The future Mrs. Merc has been looking for an apartment so that we can raise our incoming Mini Merc in an environment away from the ‘rescue house’ her housemates have turned the place into. So when she found a place nearby that had and extraordinarily low price tag, naturally, she responds to the ad to get some more information. This is the email she got in return:
From: “Sgt.Robert Mckinstry” <email@example.com>
Date: 10/18/17 12:15 PM (GMT-06:00)
Subject: Re: 2-bedroom Minneapolis apartment inquiry
Let me start by introducing my self. My name is Sgt. Robert McKinstry, I am assigned to 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
This is my personal apartment,I have lived in this apartment for 3 years and is a wonderful place.The apartment is renting for a low price because I don’t do it for money, I just need someone to take good care of it.
Two months ago I was deployed to Afghanistan and I will be here at least 3 years... I am looking to rent my apartment for a long period of time, not just for 1,2 months. Now the apartment is busy and will be available from 20th of October.
I can’t leave the base from Afghanistan so for that I can arrange to rent the apartment from here, using Airbnb. If you are interested please email me back so I can explain how you can rent my apartment through Airbnb.
Kindest regards!Sgt. Robert McKinstry
So let’s do this by the numbers, shall we?
1: Never, in the online history of the military, has an official email address ended in a dot com. If it does not say something like John.Smith@us.army.mil, you are not dealing with the real thing.
2: all active (including guard and reserve units) can easily be verified by a quicky wiki. I first checked the 82nd airborne page, and upon perusing their ‘current structure’ find a distinct lack of either the 4th BCT, or the 782nd BSB. Not willing to trust single source info, I then plugged in 4th BCT, leading me to a page that says: The brigade was active from 1968-1969, and from 2006-2014. So... discontinued unit. Lovely.
3: If this man was indeed actively in the 82nd Airborne as he claimed, he would be living on or near Fort Benning, GA, where the unit is located, not up here in the great white North for the last three years.
4: close, but no cigar. Most 82nd troops have been going to Iraq of late. However, a detachment of the 3rd BCT was recently deployed to Afghanistan on September 22. Less than a month ago.
5: The likelihood of a deployment lasting near that long is slim as hell, and that’s usually because the deployment was extended due to unforseen circumstances. Members of my own unit were extended an extra 10 months for a total of 22 months, finally returning the day before I shipped out, myself. Considering current correlations between such long term deployments and suicide, a little fact checking never hurts.
I’m not even going to get into the fact that this guy would claim to use Airbnb for an apartment, especially since most apartments have ‘no sub-letting’ clauses in their leases. But, needless to say, the ad has been flagged and removed as of this posting.
I live by a very important motto: Trust, but verify. That goes doubly true if there is hard-earned money on the table. We were lucky that she thought something was off and asked me to verify, because another search found an 18 page comment section full of people who had been pulled in by this ‘airbnb rental scam’, and at least one of them had listed our ‘Robert McKinistry’ by name, though for a completely different area.
All the information you need to verify can be found with Google and Wikipedia, so don’t hesitate to use them. Because if something sounds too good to be true... Well, you know the saying.