‘World War III draft’ memes have inspired a new texting scam

Things are pretty bad right now between the United States and Iran — but not so bad that the U.S. army needs to draft soldiers via text message so they can be thrown into a Third World War.

Scammers appear to be capitalizing on exaggerated fears of World War III by sending out text messages that falsely inform people they’ve been drafted, according to an “urgent” warning issued by the U.S. army.

“A number of fraudulent text messages informing individuals they have been selected for a military draft have circulated throughout the country this week,” the U.S. Army Recruiting Command said in an official statement on its website.

“The draft has not been in effect since 1973,” the army said. “The military has been an all-volunteer force since that time.

“Army recruiting operations are proceeding as normal.”

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The army provided two samples of the fraudulent text messages, which demand that the user respond immediately or face fines and jail time.

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“United States Official Army Draft, we tried contacting you through mail several times and have had no response,” one message said. “You’ve been marked eligible and must come to the nearest branch in Jacksonville Florida area for immediate departure to Iran.”

Fraudulent text messages about a military draft are shown in this image released on Jan. 7, 2020.

Fraudulent text messages about a military draft are shown in this image released on Jan. 7, 2020.

U.S. Army Recruiting Command

The army does not specify why scammers might be sending fraudulent texts. However, U.S. and Canadian officials have identified similar scams in the past, in which fraudsters solicit a text response in order to get the victim’s phone number so it can be “spoofed” for further criminal activity.

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The Selective Service System, which would oversee any military draft, declared that it was “business as usual” in a post on its official Facebook page last week.

“In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the president would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft,” the department wrote.

Overblown fears of “WWIII” have been circulating on social media ever since a U.S. drone killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a targeted strike at an Iraqi airport on Jan. 3. Iran vowed to seek “revenge” for the death of Soleimani, who was one of its top military leaders.

Terms such as “World War III,” “WW3” and “WWIII” were trending on Twitter and Google following Soleimani’s death. The notion quickly inspired some wild memes about an all-consuming war that would require a draft.

Many users found videos to express their low-key anxieties around the notion of a draft.

The last U.S. military draft was conducted for the war in Vietnam in 1973, as the army pointed out in its post.

Canada has only employed a draft-like conscription policy twice, during the First and Second World Wars.

(C) 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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