Internet scammers steal identity
Facebook fake of ex-NZDF boss
An internet love scam targeting lonely women has apparently hijacked the identity of a former top New Zealand military official, as well as Australia’s incoming chief of the Australian Defence Force.
The New Zealand Defence Force is investigating alongside Australian authorities after a German woman alerted Fairfax Media to the scam, which attempts to dupe women into handing over cash to fraudsters hiding behind the names and photographs of top military personnel.
An account purporting to belong to former defence chief Rhys Jones has been set up by impersonators. This is the second time it has happened.
A spokeswoman for
the Defence Force said it had reported a fraudulent account claiming to belong to Jones to police in 2012.
‘‘This case in 2014 appears to be a new impersonation page and the NZDF will now take similar action,’’ she said.
Jones, alongside Australia’s Air Marshal Binskin, were among several high-profile international figures whose identities were used to create the fraudulent Facebook accounts.
On Thursday Facebook suspended several other profiles, including pages portraying topranking United States and European military commanders and a fake profile of American astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Anna Linden, 54, a waitress in West Germany said she received a Facebook message from a man claiming to be Binskin after accepting his friend request at the end of May – less than two months after he was named Australia’s new chief of defence.
Linden received messages, seen by Fairfax Media, claiming Binskin was serving in Kabul in Afghanistan, but he would soon retire and was looking for a partner as he had been single for eight years. The real Mark Binskin is married to wife Gitte.
The messages, written in German, quickly escalated to declarations from the imperson- ator that ‘‘I really love you’’ and ‘‘I promise you my life’’.
Then Linden received a message that Binskin was stuck in London without a valid visa and if she would pay for a plane ticket to Spain he would join her on a holiday and repay her by selling 5 kilograms of gold he had in his possession. Linden decided to report the impostor as she had been duped once before by a fake Facebook romance.