Officials warn of website scam targeting soldiers, families
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2014 – (Editor’s Note: The article below is a revised version of a story we posted this morning. Since we originally posted it, we learned that an official Army website called MyArmyBenefits exists and that U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, the originator of the news release that served as the basis for the story, had published this clarification: “In yesterday’s announcement, CID accurately released that a website claiming to be an official U.S. Army benefits website, using the web address www.usmilitarybenifit.org, is NOT an official U.S. Army website and it is not affiliated, nor endorsed in any way by the U.S. Army. The official "MyArmyBenefits" website can be found at http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil. This is the authorized U.S. Army benefits website and serves as the go-to source for all benefits and services available and continues to successfully assist Soldiers and their families. Soldiers and former service members are required to use either their CAC or AKO login information to access the official website. As a reminder, the official site ends with ‘.mil.’" We at American Forces Press Service apologize for any confusion caused by the article we posted this morning.)
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command is warning about a new website scam in which criminals are attempting to take advantage of soldiers and their families.
The "My Army Benefits" website at http://www.usmilitarybenifit.org is not an official website, officials said, and is neither affiliated with nor endorsed in any way by the United States Army. The Army does, however, have an official website called "MyArmyBenefits" at http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil that is operated by the service's Retirement Services Office.
The primary purpose of the fraudulent site is to collect soldiers' Army Knowledge Online, or AKO, email accounts and passwords, officials said. It also makes the false claim that the U.S. military has granted access to unclaimed and accumulated benefits for active duty soldiers, and that benefits not claimed within the stipulated period will be available for claims after 60 months.
Criminal Investigation Command officials strongly recommend that soldiers, Army civilians, retirees and family members avoid the website and ignore any information or claims posted on it. They also recommend deleting suspicious or unsolicited emails immediately, without response.
Most online scam attempts are easily recognizable, officials said, because they usually involve unsolicited emails or text messages. Hoax websites often contain misspelled words and punctuation and grammatical errors, they added, and often ask for private information such as an email address and password.
Officials noted that cybercrime and Internet fraud present challenges to law enforcement agencies, as criminals mask their true identities and locations and cover their tracks quickly. Websites and accounts can easily be established and deleted in very little time, they said, allowing scam artists to strike and then disappear before law enforcement agencies can respond.
Because identifying the perpetrators is difficult, people must stay alert and be personally responsible for protecting themselves and their families online.
Criminal Investigation Command provided the following advice for anyone who has received correspondence from the My Army benefits website or provided information through it:
-- Do not log in to the website;
-- Do not respond to any emails;
-- Stop all contact if you have previously responded to any emails; and
-- Immediately contact your local information assurance office if you accessed the website from a government computer or system.