NORTH OGDEN, Utah — Online scammers are exploiting pictures of the late Major Brent Taylor and his children two years after he was killed in Afghanistan.
In November, rural Kansas resident Jacquelyne Felts received a Facebook friend request from someone named Bello Ibrahim.
“I saw the little tag [on the military uniform] and all I could make out was that it said Taylor,” she said.
Suspicious, Felts reverse-searched the images and quickly learned the pictures were of Major Brent Taylor.
“When I found his profile and I realized that he was deceased, I was just like, ‘Oh, how low do you have to steal profile pictures from a deceased military man?’” she said.
Major Taylor was killed in 2018 by a member of the Afghan security forces while deployed to Afghanistan. At the time, he served as the mayor of North Ogden.
“The first time, I was in a panic. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe someone would do that,” said Major Taylor’s widow Jennie Taylor.
Taylor told FOX 13 that scammers first stole pictures posted online shortly after his death. Now, she is notified at least once a week.
“I still get notices, usually from some woman I don’t know, usually by way of Facebook or Instagram messenger and they will say, ‘You don’t know me but I’ve been dating this gentleman online and I found out it’s a false profile using your husband’s pictures,’” Taylor said.
She shared screenshots of a scammer writing ‘I love you with all of my heart’ above a photo of Major Taylor fishing with their son.
Victims come from as far as Ecuador, Brazil and Ukraine. For some, online romances continued for weeks and even months.
“I’ll tell you it’s scary. Because so much of what you see online can be absolutely false,” Taylor said.
While Felts didn’t accept the friend request, she believes the real victims are Major Taylor’s widow and children.
“I just think that’s awful and I feel really bad for the family,” Felts said.
Facebook deleted some fake accounts, but Taylor is unsure how many remain.