Such is the case with a woman who made up an entire story about being a Marine combat veteran, decorated with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and having stage four cancer brought on by her time in the service.
The story was very convincing.
Marine Maj. Thomas Schueman sat across from a young Marine Corps veteran in a coffee shop and listened to her story. The woman told him her twin brother had been killed in action. Her service-connected cancer had spread to her brain. The bills were piling up and her home was about to be foreclosed on.
Her name is Sarah Cavanaugh and she had been milking the story for years with a GoFundMe account, and then a request with a non-profit called HunterSeven. She was caught when a former Marine got a good look at her photograph.
As [HunterSeven’s] Simoni does with many of the veterans who come to them, she shared Cavanaugh’s story on HunterSeven’s Instagram page on Jan. 24. That’s where Lt. Cmdr. Amy Forsythe saw it. Now a Navy Reserve public affairs officer, Forsythe spent 18 years in the Marine Corps. As soon as she saw the picture accompanying the post, alarm bells sounded in her head. She thought it was a case of stolen valor and reached out to Simoni.
“Initially, it was the uniform,” Forsythe told Coffee or Die Magazine, emphasizing that she was speaking from her own experience as a Marine, not as a Navy spokesperson. Cavanaugh had her collar on backward and her earrings were out of regulation, Forsythe said.
As she read over Cavanaugh’s claims, they did not add up. The post said Cavanaugh had earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal with V, the fourth-highest military decoration for valor, all while Forsythe was a public affairs officer in the Marines. If someone — especially a woman — had earned a Bronze Star with V, she was sure she would have heard about it.
The red flags kept coming.
For one, she seemed too young at 30 to have plausibly been in the middle of the infamously heavy fighting Marines faced between 2007 and their withdrawal in 2010, Forsythe said. And on both her resume and in a video testimonial (no longer publicly available) for the Code of Support Foundation, a veteran-oriented nonprofit, Cavanaugh claimed to have joined the Marines in 2007, when she would have been 16.
How this woman was able to pull off such a scam is a question that does need to be answered. Fortunately, she was caught before HunterSeven gave her a dime.
Fake Marines ALWAYS get caught trying to wear the uniform… Any good Marine can spot the slightest discrepancy of their uniform with a mere glance…
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