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Friday, May 5, 2017

Soldier Impersonators - Romance Scams using Fake Dating and Facebook Profiles

At least three times a week, I receive comments posted to my blog
entries from women claiming to be in a meaningful, romantic relationship
with my son and Army Ranger veteran. Women like Barb, who wrote this...

Fortunately for Barb she knew better than to believe the stories told to her by
the person(s) claiming to be my son. She also checked photos her Catfish used
in their profile/sent to her using Google's reverse image search tool,
which instantly matched them to photos I have posted here at my blog!
As for my blog, I have gone back and deleted nearly every post
featuring Ranger's photos or have watermarked them in an effort to
stop these fake-warrior, scumbag impersonators from using them...
Still, his photos and videos are being lifted from his Instagram page...
And, his Facebook profile has been duplicated hundreds of times,
using different variations of his name mixed in with other names!
Trust me when I tell you... You are NOT Dating this US Army
Ranger and he has not asked you to send him money!
What is happening is older than Shakespeare's tale of Romeo and Juliet... Boy
meets girl, girl falls for boy hoping to live happily ever after. However, with
the Internet, where dating websites such as, eHarmony, Tinder,
Zoosk and others have normalized the experience of forming instant attractions,
attachments and relationships without actually meeting the other person first,
it goes more like this: Boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, boy asks girl to wire
him a few thousand dollars, then boy disappears without a trace!
These professional scammers, usually based in West Africa, are very cleaver to
steal the identities and photos of our soldiers and claim they are either deployed
or stationed overseas because women are often more sympathetic towards men in
uniform claiming to be far from home, lonely and in need. These victims are also
less likely to question the randomness of their beau's availability to make contact
due to time differences and the very demanding missions as a soldier. Remember...
If you think it's only women falling victim to this crime, think again! Male
soldiers are reporting falling for similar honey-traps set by these crooks;
allowing the enemy to hack their phones to access photos, passwords, and
other information while posing as beautiful women on on-line dating apps!
Facebook is flooded with fake warrior profiles. And worse, Facebook does not
care and will not remove a fake profile, even when notified. I have reported
dozens of these profiles using Ranger's photos along with his name or some
variation of it. However, despite being able to match the stolen photos to the
real profile of someone with a very active and well established page, Facebook
chooses to protect the fake profile, which often has very few posts, comments or
associated friends. Facebook's standard reply is always to recommend that you
block the person if it upsets you that much. It has gotten so bad for our son that
even his real e-mail, home address and phone number are now compromised. But
instead of going after the impersonators, Facebook has now deactivated HIS page!
It is easy to feel sorry for those who fall victim to these fake warrior profile
scams. They often lose tons of money they cannot afford to lose, they suffer
broken hearts, humiliation and lose the ability to trust. But there's something
else at stake; the security and privacy of our soldiers' identities. After all, every
fake profile is using the name and stolen photo of a real person. What happens
to them not only hurts them but affects their families and our proud military as
a whole. No one wants these victims believing that a soldier has manipulated
their feelings and stolen from them when in fact, all he's doing is serving his
country honorably and in many cases, doesn't even know! However, in our
Ranger's case, he is all too aware, because his profile and photos are being
stolen to create so many fake warrior profiles on dating apps and Facebook,
that he's contacted nearly every day and sometimes multiple times a day. And,
sadly, by the time these women reach the point in their "relationships" with the
fake version of our son, something has happened to cause them to investigage...
Either they have paid to travel somewhere to meet a man that never showed up,
discovered their identities have been stolen so that they are receiving payment
demand letters for accounts they never opened, their bank accounts have
been drained or they have wired away thousands of dollars. Like Julie...
If he tells you he is in Special Operations and cannot provide
you with any information, it's a lie/scam. While it's true Special
Operators like our son won't discuss their jobs, they also don't
run around telling random strangers they're Special Ops...
If he tells you he's deployed overseas and mentions a specific
country, it's a lie/scam. While we do have military and contract
personnel deployed/working all over the world, communication
between soldiers and their friends and families is monitored. Any
revelation of location or mission specifics and the line is cut. If he
tells you he's been given special permission to discuss his location
or his job to convince you he is who he says he is, it's a lie/scam!
Every solider has a mailing address. So if he tells you he has no
way to receive your mail, it's a lie/scam. If he tells you he cannot
come see you because he is not authorized to take leave, it's a lie/scam.
The military pays for all travel to and from a war zone so if he tells you he
needs travel money to get home, it's a lie/scam. If he tells you he needs
permission for leave and needs your e-mail address or other contact
information to give to someone that will verify you are waiting for him
or traveling to meet him, it's a lie/scam. If all it took to bring Ranger
home from any of his five deployments to Afghanistan was a note
from me to his team leader or Commander authorizing him to come
home, I would have done it! Even in the case of a death in the
family, it must first be verified by officials at the Red Cross!
If he tells you he has no family stateside or that everyone in his
family, (especially his mother or wife!) is dead or that they were
killed in some horrific accident, leaving his child/ren without care
at home and he only stops crying with worry about how to pay for
their nanny and meals long enough to e-mail you, it's a lie/scam. If
he tells you he needs money to buy a phone to call, it's a lie/scam. If
he tells you he is a high ranking military officer, it's a lie/scam. Real
officers have no time to chit-chat on-line to develop meaningful and
"lasting" relationships with total strangers. And, if he tells you he is a
General, try to remember that less than 1% of the people in the military
ever make it to General. Educate yourself on rank for the branch of service
he claims to be in... There aren't too many 25-year old full bird Colonels!
Ask him for an e-mail address. If it is not a military e-mail address
with his first name, dot, last name and .mil at the end, it's not a real
military address. If he give you a private e-mail address, try sending
e-mails. If his profile mentions a rank, it's a lie/fake. Search the name
he is using. You would be surprised how many fake profiles are using
the same exact photos. If he wants to wire money to your bank account
or asks you for a loan, promising to pay you back, it's a lie/scam! If he
claims that his paycheck is directly deposited into a bank in the States
and that he has no immediate access to his money, it's a lie/scam!
If he has told you something I have not mentioned, remember
this... 99.99% of our men and women in uniform do not have time
for this bull shit! But if you still don't believe me, read this and this
If you or someone you know has fallen for or been taken advantage of by
someone impersonating a soldier, please file a complaint with the FBI here

Monday, January 23, 2017

Got to be NC Beef Hearty Chili - Summerfield Farms Farm Tour

This is a sponsored post on behalf of the North Carolina Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services. I was compensated and received
delicious beef in exchange for sharing my experience at Summerfield Farms
But really, I woulda done it for free! Before we chit-chat about the awesomeness of
grass-fed Beef and the ah-mazing team at Summerfield Farms, I want to thank
my blog-buddy, Jenni Field for inviting me to participate in this campaign and for
all she did to keep me and my fellow bloggers mooooooving in the right direction!
Let me tell you... Summerfield Farms is a treasure that is located practically
in my own backyard. Not only does Summerfield Farms produce top-quality
grass-fed beef, they have successfully monetized this working farm so that it has
become the go-to spot for surrounding communities hungry for locally grown
and produced food as well as agra-social events. It is the opinion of this blogger
and recent guest of Summerfield Farms that owner David Couch and his team
have nailed the concept of farm-to-fork in a very unique and comprehensive way!
Meet Sky... She and Daniel Johnson, Farm Facilities and Operations
Manager at Summerfield Farms were my hosts for this farm tour!
Although he's been at Summerfield Farms less than a year, Daniel spoke
about the animals, this land and their facilities as if he had been born there...
In fact, Daniel is a native of coastal North Carolina; born and raised in
Elizabeth City, he received his bachelor's degree from Western Carolina and
earned his Master's in Sustainable Tourism at Eastern Carolina University. He
told me Summerfield Farms is 660 acres with 120 acres currently reserved
for grazing. Daniel explained the science behind and, the seriousness with which Summerfield Farms approaches the health of not only their herd but also the
pastureland and organic gardens, which produce nutrient-dense food sold to area
restaurants and a community following that is loyal to SF's on-site Market!
I know grass-fed beef is often said to be less tender and more gamey
tasting; however, that's not the case with the grass-fed beef produced at
Summerfield Farms. While other producers supplement the diet of their
cattle with grain or other non-grass product during the finishing stage,
the steers at Summerfield Farms are 100% grass-fed. Also, Summerfield
Farms doesn't rush its beef. While other producers rush their animals to
slaughter, Summerfield Farms is content keeping their herd grazing to
1,200 pounds and not an ounce less. Daniel said it and I whole-heartedly
agree; the way animals are treated, the level of stress endured during their
lives and how they are handled all directly affects the way the meat tastes...
And, judging by the docile nature of these happy, laid-back
cows, there's no doubt at all that Summerfield Farms is producing
only the most delicious and most tender 100% grass-fed beef!
Speaking of docile and sweet... Meet Preacher! Preacher is a darling and he
is the lead steer at Summerfield Farms. Part of the first lot purchased by
Summerfield Farms, Preacher's earned his position due to his reliability
in guiding new livestock to fresh pastures, which is a requirement of the
farm's intensive grazing plan. With a deeply gentle nature, Preacher is so
named for the counsel and comfort he provides his peers during and on the
last night of their stay at Summerfield Farms. Preacher will live out his natural
life on these gentle rolling hills, so do feel free to pop by to see him! He even
has his own blend of coffee that is sold at the Summerfield Farms Market...
While I don't drink coffee, I couldn't help but buy some to send to our son!
These Photos in Collage Courtesy of Summerfield Farms
Part of the monetization of this farm I referred to earlier comes from the
tremendous effort Summerfield Farms makes to providing spectacular
venues for corporate and community events, family reunions and high-end
farm weddings. Summerfield Farms prides itself on being a working farm
that is also a destination. And, again, from what I saw... They have it nailed!
These Photos in Collage Courtesy of Summerfield Farms
See what I mean? Summerfield Farms is committed to healthy living, even
offering Yoga classes at the barn! Summerfield Farms passionately believes that
healthy eating is medicine and therefore the key to wellness... This goes for the
animals they raise, the soil they manage and food they produce for you and me!
Summerfield Farms recently listed one of their cottages at Airbnb for anyone
seeking to get away from it all and experience life on a picturesque cattle farm...
These Photos in Collage Courtesy of Summerfield Farms
A picturesque cattle farm with its own full-service Market, featuring locally produced
and sourced meats, cheeses, produce, beverages and Summerfield Farms gift items too!
To learn more about Summerfield Farms and the many community events
they host throughout the year, visit the events page at their website here
These Collage Photos Courtesy of Summerfield Farms
As you can see, I truly enjoyed my tour and cannot thank Daniel
enough for his time and the effort he and the whole Summerfield
Farms team put into making my tour the best farm tour, ever!
So, I bet you're wondering... Where's the beef?
Here it is! In addition to the stew meat Summerfield Farms provided to help
make this the best pot of chili I have ever made, I also picked up a Ribeye to
prepare on the grill later this week while my kitchen is under construction...
Oh, yes... There was a flood at Casa Captain's Daughter over the
holidays; so as of this morning, the hardwood flooring is being replaced!
But more on that in a another blog post later! Right now...
It is time to put all of this beautiful Summerfield Farms 100%
grass-fed beef to work in an easy-to-throw together, hearty chili!
Over medium-high heat, cook three crushed cloves of garlic, five stalks celery, sliced
and one whole, chopped white onion in four tablespoons olive oil until tender...
Transfer cooked garlic/veg to a plate and add two tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil to the same pan. When oil is hot, add stew meat and season liberally
with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Brown beef on all sides...
After beef is browned, add garlic/veg mixture and cook an additional five minutes...
Add two cans diced tomatoes with juice...
Cook over medium heat for ten minutes, then add your favorite beans. I always
use a mix of pinto, black and kidney beans for added depth of flavor and texture
Add spices to your liking... I prefer a blend of cumin, paprika and oregano. Stir
to combine spices and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow chili to cook for two
hours (or until stew meat is fork-tender); stirring every thirty minutes or so...
My guy loves my chili dressed up with a dollop of
cool sour cream, diced tomatoes and sliced avocado!
And, fresh-baked sweet cornbread slathered
in unsalted butter and drizzled with local honey!
To learn more about Agriculture in North Carolina, click here
To learn how to support local growers all throughout North Carolina
and where to buy their products, visit the Got to be NC website here
Hungry for more delicious Beef Recipes? Then I invite you to check out
these posts by my fellow bloggers who also participated in this campaign!