The phony explosion

| March 25, 2013

FrostyCWO sends us a link from NBC News in which they interview our friends at Guardian of Valor and the Fake Warriors Project about the explosion of phony soldier cases in recent months. The article was apparently triggered by the conviction of Danny Crane;

“But in our world, the Danny Crane case is not unusual,” said Mary Schantag, a Marine widow who lives in Missouri and operates the Fake Warriors Project. Since launching that veteran-vetting venture on a shoe-string budget in 1998, Schantag said her nonprofit group — along with partners at similar sites — has revealed more than 4,000 hoaxers who falsely claimed military service or battlefield glory. It’s unclear how many of those 4,000 frauds later were prosecuted. A VA spokesman said such cases are not tracked by the agency.

“We had 22 phonies in 1998. I can get 22 in 48 hours right now,” Schantag said. “It’s all day, every day.”

Yeah, we’ve brought you more than 80 new phonies just since the beginning of the year. That’s almost one every day. And there’s no shortage. We’ve got probably 10 waiting on their records. And folks keep sending me more. I guess it’s a trait common among criminals to think they won’t get caught.

Category: Phony soldiers

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  1. Links and stuff | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid | March 25, 2013
  1. Andy Kravetz says:

    As a non-veteran, I think the explosion is due to the adulation (and rightly so) that veterans and service members are receiving. Our nation hasn’t really honored a group of people like this as a whole for decades. And I think those people who fake being a vet are either doing it out of some misguided sense they are honoring them, guilt for not serving or they are just criminals trying to scam people. It’s interesting though. I need to watch the piece and see what the story said. I have long wondered why there is a rash of phonies. It could also be that people are just looking for it now.

    Andy Kravetz, reporter
    Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star

  2. Hondo says:

    Andy: I dunno that there is any rash of phonies. Twenty years ago, a guy could lie his ass off about what he did and – barring a chance encounter with a real vet who had the expertise to call him out – get away with it. And the lie was limited to those who knew him.

    Today, people put all kinds of stuff on social media. Even private claims that are “fishy” often get circulated by someone else (“Hey, did you know that Jack is a war hero? He told me . . . . .”) And it’s much easier today for those who aren’t sure to research the truth.

    That’s where guys like you and Jonn are so valuable. Many reporters don’t know/care enough to ask the hard questions and vet “war hero” stories; you do. And Jonn provides a forum here at TAH where questionable claims can be brought for dissection by a collection of experienced folks from all services.

    Both are sorely needed. Thanks, guys.

  3. RunPatRun says:

    Agree in part Andy, but I think it’s simply people taking credit for things they did not do. Sometimes for financial fraud, always for misrepresentation fraud. It should be illegal, whatever the reason.

  4. Tequila says:

    Andy, phony vets are certainly not a new phenomenon. Our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, managed to get a bunch of them and congress actually held hearings giving those guys a voice and a national platform with which to spread their phony war stories, which then were adopted by the Hollywood crowd and now are ingrained into the conscience of America and have served to promote those false stereotypes of veterans that so many accept as fact nowadays. Shortly after the global war on terrorism began veterans all across this country began adhering to the mantra ‘Not this time’, meaning they would not allow another group of veterans to be slandered, ignored, or belittled.

    For more on the Kerry story look up Winter Soldiers in case you are not familiar with that sordid display from our past.

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    Usually, when people get into the Walter Mitty thing — pretending to be something they aren’t — they do it in less harmful ways. Examples are Star Wars nerds, Star Trek trekkers, and people who are politely called Rennies, the Renaissance Faire goers.

    But these people are doing it because it’s fun. At the end of the Windy Con or Faerie Con or whatever convention is going on, they go home and resume their normal, somewhat boring lives.

    My personal favorites are the LOTR geeks who dress up as hobbits or elves or dwarves and spend their time hanging out, speaking in tongues. Klingon geeks do the same thing at Trek conventions.

    The difference between this bunch of overgrown kids and the phony soldiers is that the only reward is being in the company of like-minded souls. And maybe you get to meet someone like LT Uhura or Scotty or Q and get your picture taken with him. The only people who get any ‘profit’ from it are the collectibles dealers and vendors at the conventions and RenFaires.

    And yes, I have donned my on Trek uniform and gone to Trek conventions. I’ve also put on a damned corset and six petticoats, a farthingale, a doublet, a forepart, an overskirt, and my eating dagger, and spent the day getting my hand kissed by swordsmen at the Renaissance Faire. But I’m doing that because it’s a boatload of fun and you can be whoever you want to, as are the other people who do these things.

    There’s an entire population group of Civil War and REvolutionary War and Roman Army re-enactors, also.

    But we’re doing it for fun. None of us are going after the ego feed sought by the military impostors.

  6. Twist says:

    Ex-PH2, You can always be like these guys.

    Last time I took my family up to Medieval Times we all dressed up. I went as a Knight Templar.

  7. Taco says:

    I think it’s sort like child molesters. They were always there, we just didn’t hear about it b/c they were on the page 5 of the last section of the local news. Now they will be on CNN inside of 10 minutes of the arrest for a slow news day. We come across on and it’s spread on about 20 websites before they can say “Silver Star”

    Speaking of Poser’s, with March Madness, when are we going to have another poser Tournament?

  8. USMCE8Ret says:

    The media has been rife with reports of individuals posing to the former military, claiming to be injured and have their own “exploits”. The SCOTUS states that these folks are entitled to their 1st Amendment rights, but when they use their fakery to advance their own agenda (i.e. free trips, monetary gain, etc.,) then the “lying” they are “entitled to” becomes a crime.

  9. Fjardeson says:

    We used to call them “bar-room heroes”. My Dad, who was a radioman / cryppie on the DDR 832 Hansen, told me that he had contact with some SF/SO types over his career – and that NONE of them would tell bar stories or brag. Not ONCE have I had a “bar-room hero” do anything but back off when I mentioned things like:

    1)Is discussing this mission violating OPSEC?
    2)What BUD/S class are you from (thanks Jonn)
    3)Got a DD-214?

    They all shrink off, and I’m not a big guy. They just know that they’ve been busted. I do OPSEC/COMSEC type work in the private sector and they see it in my eyes I guess 🙂

    Jonn and the rest of the TAH bunch, you are doing our military a good service smoking out these phonies. Keep up the good work!

  10. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Here’s a clip of obamaman (2008) in which he states that his father was a Veteran, served in WW II, and when he (the father) got home, he got the services that he needed. Neither obamaman’s biological father nor his stepfather served in the military. There is no dispute regarding that fact. His biological father was an educated drunkard who, after multiple DWI accidents, finally died in one.

  11. Andy Kravetz says:

    @10, I have found that you are right in your assessment. The veterans I know well and have interviewed who actually were in heavy combat never talk about it. And I mean never. I have gotten a few to open up over the years and I did something on a Marine who was in the 2003 invasion, winning a BSM for the paper.

    I think you all are right. Fakers, posers, frauds, or worse — whatever you chose to call them — they have been around for years. I have written this and stand by it. It’s sad and pathetic that people can’t be happy with themselves that they have to glom onto what others did. I wish I was a vet; I wanted to be but health reasons barred me. Doesn’t mean I am going to lie about it.

    The other tragic shame is that we can’t take any vet now at their word. I have two men who want me to do stories on them or others. First thing I have to ask for is proof of their service. That’s insulting, but a sign of the times. Hopefully, work like what you are doing which is both needed and frankly, entertaining, will continue.

    Andy Kravetz, reporter
    Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star

  12. Twist says:

    @11, He also claimed that his Uncle was there at the liberation of Auschwitz. I guess his Uncle was part of the Soviet Army.

  13. Lucky says:

    They have been around a lot longer than one might think. Heck, we had a CA E-5 my first tour, who wore a CIB and a 25th ID combat patch on his DCU’s in 2004-2005 in Afghanistan. The 25th wasn’t near Kosovo as far as my knowledge goes, and he claims he earned it with them there and then. We had an even more spectacular failure at PX Rangering in 2009-2010, with a kid coming in for a MOB wearing CPL’s stripes, and a Ranger tab, who didn’t know what a Pintle was, or how to install it on a 240B…

  14. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Andy: It is not insulting. Are you insulted when you are asked for your ID to substantiate that you are press? What is insulting is that anyone would just expect you to give them a write-up w/o proof.

  15. Andy Kravetz says:

    @16, maybe insulting isn’t the right word. I just feel terrible when a vet, in his 60s or older comes to me saying he’s got a great story and the first thing I think of is “can I see your DD-214?” Maybe it’s my own guilt, I don’t know. I think though, you are right. Insulting isn’t the right word.

    Andy Kravetz, reporter
    Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star

  16. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Andy, I’m asked for my DD214 on occasion. I have a copy in all of my computers, I’m proud of my service and I don’t mind sending it out. I don’t think a “real deal” veteran has any problem showing their creds. You shouldn’t feel guilty for asking, in fact, I’d prefer that you did.

    I’ve had to ask some folks for their DD214s, folks like authors and charities and I’ve never had any of them get upset with me. Well, except the ones who didn’t want me to see it in the first place.

  17. Dano says:

    Amazing, them folk are up here in Canada also. They seem to come out of the wood work like you would not believe. It is always nice to catch them in the act, also then when you report them the Government and let alone the authorities do nothing since it cost’s more to prosecute them. But it is still nice to see the look on their face when busted!

  18. NHSparky says:

    Yes, they are in fact up north, Dano. In case you haven’t met him yet, allow me to introduce you to one Justin Weiss, Facebook Ranger:

  19. A_Proud_Infidel says:

    If the poser is bragging among a crowd, I like to play my favorite head game, I call it “Bust the Bullshitter” . Once spotted, you ask him/her/it something any real Vet would know is BS. For instance, when I was in a bar one night, I overheard one such blowhard loudly bragging that he was SF,… I went up to him and asked him if he did his SF Training at Camp Tanner or Fort Ticonderoga. That doofus went on another tirade telling everyone about the badassed training he did on Camp Tanner …. ( I gave him a shovel, and he couldn’t dig himself under fast enough). I then told him about my Army AD time, I was just another leg, and that Camp Tanner didn’t exist, I had made it up. Everyone, thAt heard him talk his crap, including the Bartender were laughing their asses off at him! He slunk out, announcing before he went out the door that he was “going to kick my a**”, and then *POOF!* he was nowhere to be four when I went out to the parking lot after finishing my beer. That joker claimed he was Army, I’ve busted USMC posers asking them if they did Boot Camp at Camp Ferris or San Clermont, navy if they did BC at Norfolk, … I LOVE the look on their faces when I bust their chops!
    Give it a try on any poser blowing hot air, it’s fun!!

  20. A_Proud_Infidel says:

    *AAARRRRRGGGHHH!!!* *BLEEEP, BLEEPBLEEPBLEEEP*. Stupid Auto-Correct on this phone,…. *BLEEEP!*

  21. Hondo says:

    Andy: a second method – very useful if your instincts tell you something might possibly be amiss – is to tell them that you need official verification before publication. Then ask them to sign a SF180 giving you access to their military records.

    Your call, but for a major story you might want to insist on that. Faked documents provided directly by individuals are not unknown. Many posers have been busted when their purported “documents” turned out to be very different from what was on file at NPRC. See Pequignot, John, and many others featured here at TAH for examples.