Sergeant Sean Fennerty's family received quite a shock when they discovered someone was using the fallen soldier's photo in a plea for money.
An image of Fennerty -- who was incorrectly identified on Craigslist as a soldier named Chris -- was posted on the Pensacola, Florida Craigslist page with a link to a donation website and a call for readers to share the ad on social media channels, KVAL reports. The Craigslist ad claimed the soldier was hospitalized after losing both legs and needed assistance with medical bills.
"As soon as I saw it, it got my attention, kind of raised the temperature a little bit," said Fennerty's father Brian, a doctor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
"You know, I was mad," Dr. Fennerty said. "My wife and I and our family's goal was to have him remembered for what he did, and you know, this kind of sullies it."
The Oregon resident was killed in Iraq in 2007 and buried in Portland. Though this is the first instance Oregon's military department says it's heard of a scam using photos of fallen soldiers, it is not the first internet time a member of the military has been impersonated online.
HuffPost's Loren Berlin reported on Denise Tarramorse, a teacher who sent $1,700 to a man she believed to be an American soldier, in November:
Tarramorse is one of the thousands of women who fall victim each year to fraudsters posing as U.S. servicemembers. "A couple of years ago we were getting hundreds of calls a year about this scam," says Christopher Grey, chief of public affairs for the Army Criminal Investigation Command. "Now we get thousands. If we're getting calls from thousands of women, we know there are many more out there who aren't reporting it."
According to Grey, Tarramorse's experience is a textbook example of the scam. "This typically happens on an Internet dating website. The perpetrator takes the identity of U.S. soldiers and Marines, mainly, meets multiple women online and after a couple of weeks starts asking them for money. He professes love at hyper speed and continues to rob them."
Stealing a servicemember's identity can be surprisingly easy, laments Grey. The fraudster pulls the servicemember's photos from Facebook or press releases or local news stories, and builds an identity from there. Sometimes he uses a real servicemember's name and rank. Other times, he creates a new name.
Watch the video from KVAL below:
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