Man 'pretended to be US soldier to scam woman in online relationship'


A man pretending to be an American soldier has allegedly scammed a “well-educated” Brisbane woman seeking romance of more than $300,000, police say.

The woman sent the 32-year-old foreign national more than $200,000 after he told her a sob story relating to the loss of close family members.

They had met on social media last October and began an online relationship. He claimed to be deployed in Syria, but was in fact living in Brisbane.

He later went to her house to take another $105,000, claiming he was a fixer for the soldier after he did not match the photos of her purported boyfriend.

The meeting prompted her to go to police, who caught the man in a sting – involving the proposed handover of more money – before charging him with fraud and attempted fraud.

Officers can be seen pushing the man against the police car during the Brisbane arrest. Source: Queensland Police

“I would characterise this victim as a well-educated young person who has entered into an online relationship based on what she was told,” police investigator Vince Byrnes told reporters on Friday.

The man is set to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday and police will oppose bail.

“It’s very uncommon in Australia or anywhere around the world to have an offender involved in this type of scam physically present themself for the collection of money,” Det Insp Byrnes said.

“It is a disturbing development and impinges on the personal safety of not only that victim, but as a development in the methodology (of scammers).

“These are constructed, well-versed scams demonstrating predatory behaviour based on avarice and greed.”

The US military receives hundreds of complaints each month of purported soldiers scamming people of money, police said.