Identities of top army officers used in Facebook dating scam

Australian 'army chief' befriends woman on Facebook and then asks her for money

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 12:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 1:55am


The identities of top Australian and New Zealand military officers have been used in an international Facebook dating scam.

Australian Federal Police confirmed the existence of a fake profile of incoming Australian Defence Force chief Mark Binskin.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the page was used to befriend a woman in Germany and ask her for money.

Anna Linden, from Aachen in western Germany, said she received a message from a man posing as Binskin. The man said he was soon to retire from serving in Afghanistan and was looking for a partner after being single for eight years.

"I really love you" and "I promise you my life", the messages reportedly stated.

Linden said she notified the newspaper after the man asked her to transfer €300 (HK$3,200) to him and said he would repay her with 5kg of gold.

"I knew he would just keep asking for more money," Linden said, adding she had been a victim of a previous internet love scam.

The Australian Federal Police said it was aware of the Facebook page, and was providing advice to the defence department on removing the profile.

An Australian Defence Force spokesman said they were not aware of this particular case, but were "investigating the matter further".

Air Marshal Binskin is set to take over the role of defence chief in July.

New Zealand said it was aware of a Facebook page impersonating Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, who until February was the chief of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Jones' profile was also used in a similar scam in 2012, which was "referred to the NZ Police and also to Facebook as a violation", the New Zealand Defence Force said. "This case in 2014 appears to be a new impersonation page and the NZDF will be taking similar action."

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost A$25 million (HK$176 million) to dating and romance scams, including online schemes, last year.

New Zealanders lost more than NZ$2 million (HK$13 million) to dating scams in 2012.