In the end, no man with Peter’s supposed full name and date of birth showed up on any records in the US.
Also, a reverse lookup of Peter’s Facebook pictures revealed no less than 12 Facebook profiles using the same photos as Peter's. Scammers often use pictures of soldiers because they appear forthright and credible - after all, no one wants to question a serviceman, and who can resist a man in uniform anyway?
These networks of scammers call their victims “clients,” and often communicate with many people simultaneously.
In the course of her investigations into fake profiles like Peter’s, Melanie has even found two women on Facebook fighting over the same (fake) lover.
Moreover, the chaotic lives and limited lines of communication that real active duty servicemen have provides cover for scammers to keep conversations with victims text-based. "In the end, she confronted Peter with what my research had found, and of course he denied it.” Even more shockingly, the scammer responded to the accusation by claiming that his account was hacked.
He even thanked Phoebe for bringing it to his attention.
Investigators in the Trustify network are also available to help verify whether someone is a scammer through catfishing and online dating investigations.
Many people won’t think twice about such a small amount of money, and the scammers use this to their advantage.
“I just thought my prayers are being answered," she told VOA.
The relationship quickly intensified, and Schuster fell hard, emailing multiple times each day.
For a start, all of his friends weren’t what you’d expect - not many soldiers and not much in the way of family”.
Despite the profile having recent activity, posts from what appeared to be a continuous deployment, and even comments and praise from friends, there were plenty of signs that Peter’s identity had been faked.“You’d at least expect to see plenty of activity from loved ones, as well as posts about important life events like the birth of a niece or nephew, or the birthday of a sibling or parent.” Additionally, the man was claiming to be in his 50s, an appropriate dating age bracket for Phoebe, the client.