Jasonville, Indiana (CNN) -- Last Christmas, Stacey Chapman hung a stocking, anxiously awaiting the homecoming of the all-American soldier she had met online and planned to marry.
But he never came home. After some research, Chapman discovered the 20-year-old blond in fatigues pictured in the online dating profile, Spc. Brian Browning, had died in Iraq three years ago. And the man she had been e-mailing and chatting with for the last six months, who went by the name "Christain Browning," was really a scammer posing as an American soldier.
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Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, told CNN his division has received hundreds of complaints of scammers using the photos of U.S. soldiers in dating and social websites in the last year. CNN has learned the scammers have used photos of both living and dead troops, including high-ranking Army officials and even generals assigned to the Pentagon.
Many of the soldiers are fighting overseas, unaware that their photos -- stolen off the web -- are being used unless they're contacted by the duped victims. But often, as in the case of Stacey Chapman, the impostor uses a variation on the soldier's name, making the real soldier hard to find.
A broken-hearted Chapman lost more than $1,200 that she sent via Western Union for what she thought was his plane ticket home. And while the financial hit hurt, it didn't compare to the emotional toll.
I know waterboarding is frowned on these days, but a little bit of that would be just right for these scammers, in between their days in solitary.