FORT HOOD, TX - A Fort Hood soldier is speaking out, after his photo was used on countless dating sites and Facebook profiles to catfish vulnerable women.
If you’re one of the millions of people searching for love online, and come across a picture of Staff Sergeant Stephen Clark, you might think you’ve found the perfect match.
However, the 15 year army veteran is not looking for internet romance, in fact from from it.
“I’m married with four children, anyone who sees my picture on a dating site it's a fake one being used to exploit women.” He says.
Clark is part of a disturbing trend that has emerged as the dating landscape has increasingly moved online. People are using soldier’s pictures to catfish vulnerable singles into sharing personal information about themselves, and often scam them for money.
“If you're a soldier and you've got a social media profile, it's almost a sure bet that somebody out there is mining your pictures and creating a fake dating page” Clark warns.
For Staff Sergeant Clark, it started about a year ago with a message from a friend.
“He said he had seen a profile using my picture but it was under a different name.”
Since then, dozens of messages began pouring in from women across the country, telling him they’d been communicating with someone that was using his pictures, most angry and humiliated, but some heartbroken.
“One woman told me she was engaged to my picture.”
However, all were told a similar story.
“They said they were deployed and they wanted care packages, and gifts, some even asked for money."
Sadly, Stephen’s story isn't an uncommon one, in fact he says, as he began searching for his own likeness, he uncovered countless other fake profiles using other soldier’s photos.
“These women are victims, who have an affinity for women in uniform and they are being taken advantage of.” Clark says.
The problem is the sheer quantity of profiles that pop up every day.
"I’ve found at least fifty to one hundred."
Some profiles even using pictures of his young children.
Clark wants his story to serve as a warning to soldiers, of the importance of staying vigilant, in an increasingly dangerous online world.
“Be diligent, use the maximum privacy settings and go through every once a while and see if those fake profiles are there.”
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