Sometimes I get Facebook friend requests from people I don’t know. I always go to their page and check them out first. Usually, they are friending me because they are other writers or in the publishing business; or they read my book. Sometimes,they are just creepy.
Yesterday I got a Facebook friend request from a man named James Mark, who listed his occupation as US Army, Military Police, in Dallas, Texas. His profile pic was grainy. He had only a few friends.
Normally I’d just delete it without a second thought. But this caught my attention.
All the friends and subscriptions are named Margaret or Kathryn. Obsessive much?
Somebody call an FBI profiler.
Plus, this really stuck in my craw because the guy in the photo is in a military uniform, and I suspected he was a Lying Liar. So I put on my Sherlock hat.
The PDF here is the screen grab.
And a close up of his profile pic:
I asked Cadillac to look at the photo. He immediately ID’d the robin’s egg blue ribbon around the guy’s neck. “That is a Medal of Honor,” he said. “There’s only one ribbon that is that color.”
So we looked online at Medal of Honor winners still living and found Leroy Petry, a US Army Ranger who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan in 2008, while serving in the A Co of the 2d of 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Lewis (yup, the same one Cadillac was in, a long time ago). This hero lost his hand by taking a grenade for his men. It makes me sick that someone would steal his photo and use it for such a creepy purpose.
I found this photo of Leroy Petry on Letterman: BINGO!
I reported this to Facebook, blocked him, and hope they’ll take down the profile. I looked at Stolen Valor, which investigates and helps prosecutes military impersonators, but it seems like the person needs to be walking around in a uniform claiming to be that person.
Oh yeah! It’s a crime to pretend you’re in the military. Pretending to be a Medal of Honor recipient can get you a full year in jail. The Supreme Court is now hearing a case that will decide whether the law stands, or is overturned.
I think it should not be overturned. Everybody agrees it’s icky, but there’s a question of whether it falls under free speech. It’s not the same as free speech to me. Posing as a police officer, an attorney, or a doctor are all crimes if you’re getting people to do stuff for you because of it. These positions convince people that you’re legit, that you’re trustworthy. If you’re posing as a Medal of Honor winner or other war hero, you have the aura of integrity above a common person as an officer of the law might. You may convince the common person to invest in your shady financial scheme, go out with you, vote for you, trust you, based on the wrong belief that you did something extraordinary for this country.
Anyway, everybody, check out your friend requests. Delete if something looks off.
And don’t impersonate military members. And especially don’t impersonate an Army Ranger Medal of Honor Winner.