Airman can avoid fraud

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Since the first day of basic training, Airmen are instilled with the three core values. Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do.

Integrity First is what ties the other two values together. To Airmen, this value is essential. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses it.

Recently, an Airman here was victimized through an online scam by a person who lacked integrity. He was looking for a car and found one he liked online.

The Airman contacted the seller via e-mail about the car he was interested in. The seller introduced himself as a fellow Airman from another base. This introduction made the Airman feel more at ease about the business deal, falling into the seller's scheme.

After interchanging numerous e-mails, they decided to go through with the transaction. The seller told the Airman to use Google Checkout; a tool that holds payment to the seller until the buyer receives the said goods.

When the buyer sent the money to the Google Checkout, he never received delivery notification and was never able to get in contact with the seller.

Turns out, the seller and alleged Airman was a scammer. The account he gave the buyer to send the money to, wasn't a Google Checkout account.

At this point, the Airman sought guidance from the legal office here on what his next step should be. The legal office investigated his case and are trying to help him as best as they can, and advised the Airman to seek assistance from the FBI.

"Airmen need to be especially careful in situations like this because not everyone seems to believe in core values," said Capt. Michael Pierson, 509th Bomb Wing assistant staff judge advocate.

A good rule to remember when dealing with online transactions or purchases is if it's too good to be true, it probably is, said Capt. Kevin Normile, 509th Bomb Wing assistant staff judge advocate.

"Online scams are very common," said Captain Normile. "It's easier to make up a back story online when buyers don't know any better. That's why you have to be especially careful."

Captain Pierson recommends Airmen double check every person listed on a transaction to verify they are a credible source. He also encourages them to verify account numbers and try to use a transaction method with live customer support.

"Airmen are probably more willing than civilians to make online transactions since we're constantly on the move," said Captain Pierson. "We are more likely to make a large purchase online because it's more convenient for us."

An Airman who often makes purchases online explains how he avoids being scammed.
"I make sure I do my homework with what I'm going to buy before I get into negotiations," said Airman 1st Class Andrew Porter, 509th Communications Squadron, assistant base records manager. "I also make sure to use secure sites."

He said if he was ever part of a scam, he wouldn't be too angry because he would know it's partially his fault for not researching the subject thoroughly and not taking enough precautions.

"Not everyone has integrity like we'd like to believe," said Captain Pierson. "It's essential to take as many preventative measures as possible."

The legal office recently developed a new website which offers multiple resources and guidance 24/7.

For more information, guidance or an appointment contact the legal office at (660) 687-6809 or go to the website www.aflegalassistance.law.af.mil.