Published on 14th July 2016 by

Heroes, Frauds and Imposters (2010): Some Americans have convinced others of their heroic military histories, only to be revealed that they had been telling outright lies.

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They’ve duped veterans and been hailed as heroes by the world. They are the legion of military ‘fakers’ who have emerged since 9/11 – a phenomenon reaching the highest levels of US politics.

“I spent a third of my life in the marine core. It was everything I knew, everything I loved.” A charismatic Rick Duncan tells the story that captivated America at a high-profile event for the Colorado Veterans Alliance. A hero dodging bullets and losing buddies on three tours of Iraq, collecting shrapnel he calls “internal body bling”, and garnering some of the highest military medals possible. Yet he had bought his medals, and cut and pasted his stories, from the internet. He played an important role in supporting veterans in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Yet veteran Dan Warvi says that it took him six hours on the internet to realise that “Rick was a complete fraud”. When veteran Doug Sternum realised that one man had stolen the identity of his deceased best friend, he made it his mission to hunt down people like Rick: “I get overwhelmed by the amount of imposters”. Despite serious penalties and 6 months jail time for faking military service, or wearing honours not won in battle, more and more imposters continue to be revealed in what has become a highly emotional witch hunt: “This isn’t a fuckin’ computer game – this is for real!”

ABC Australia – Ref. 4938

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