The scam involves an online scammer tricking a victim into believing he or she is "in a relationship" with an American Soldier and then hustling the victim out of his or her money."These perpetrators are definitely not American Soldiers, but they are quite familiar with American culture," said Chris Grey, Army CID spokesperson."The criminals, often from other countries, most notably from West African countries, are pretending to be U. Soldiers serving in a combat zone or other overseas locations."According to Grey, perpetrators take on the online persona of a U. soldier with photographs of a soldier off the Internet, and then begin prowling the web for victims.In today's digital age, online predators and scammers have become more clever than an email from a Nigerian Prince asking for money.

Scammers steal pictures of real soldiers online and create fake profiles.

The Army calls it an epidemic and is warning people to be cautious connecting to anyone online who claims to be a soldier serving overseas.

Victims of these scams have reported losing thousands of dollars.

One victim went so far as to refinance her house to help out her new online beau. Once the victim is on the hook, the scammer attempts to persuade the victim to provide financial support to deal with a crisis or send money on some other pretext.

After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account.

The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country.

They connected and soon enough, the Syracuse resident was getting little requests for favors— he sent a i Tunes card before finding out that the profile is fake.

News Channel 9’s Tammy Palmer reached out to the U. Army, and found out that they get hundreds of complaints every month from people who say they were duped on legitimate dating sites.

She asked to speak with him in person or via Skype, but the man said that wasn't allowed.

“His thing was, ‘well, this is top secret, we're fighting the terrorists, we can't do anything that would compromise that, so I can't use the phone.' And I believed all this," Schuster said. Shortly after the first wire transfer, the man told her that he wanted to get out of the Air Force and join some of his pilot friends in starting a private company that flies charter planes.

The soldier's rank and other details are often included in an effort to lend credence to the scammer's story.