The family of a fallen Massachusetts soldier is once again fighting to defend his identity from complete strangers using his pictures on fake social media accounts and dating sites.
Lisa Haglof, who helps manage the Facebook memorial page for her brother, Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Pucino, told Boston 25 News she recently began receiving messages from people informing her Pucino's pictures and name were being used in online profiles to deceive and scam women.
This Thanksgiving will mark eight years since the 34-year-old local hero died. The Green Beret was killed by an improvised explosive device on his third tour in Afghanistan.
Haglof said she reached out to Facebook, requesting they remove the accounts of "Damon Puccino," "Dusstin Alex Puccino." and "Emmanuel Pucino," all containing her brother's photos, stolen from the memorial page and other sites.
When the profiles weren't immediately taken down, Boston 25 News reached out to Facebook by email. Although Facebook did not reply by late Monday night, the three accounts soon disappeared.
A dating profile on Match.com under the name, "Captain Smiley," with a picture of Pucino, was finally taken down after Pucino's family's repeated attempts to have it removed, Haglof said.
Match.com did not reply to Boston 25 News' email requesting information.
"It’s really sickening for our family to have to go through this constantly, and it’s a battle," Haglof said. "Despicable. It’s disgusting, and these people can’t have any soul. I mean, who does that to a fallen soldier?"
Haglof has been dealing with the issue for years. In 2014, a New York man, Brandon Ashraf, was arrested and accused of stealing Pucino's identity in a catfish dating scheme targeting women.
But Ashraf wasn't charged with Stolen Valor, as Haglof had hoped, because he did not receive anything monetary in exchange, she said. Haglof hopes to change that law.
"Honestly, it’s like a whack a mole game," Haglof said. "That’s what I feel like. Every time I turn around we're getting rid of one and two more pop up."
Cox Media Group