The fake messages appear to have been sent out to individuals across the nation in the midst of mounting military tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The US Army recently issued a warning alerting civilians about a wave of "fraudulent text messages" being sent out to Americans, falsely claiming that the recipients have been drafted for military service. The alarming texts instruct the recipient to report to the nearest Army recruiting branch "for immediate departure to Iran" and also carry the threat of being fined and imprisoned for a minimum of 6 years if they fail to reply. The fake messages are believed to have been sent out to individuals across the nation in the midst of mounting military tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The US Army is warning Americans about a wave of "fraudulent text messages" falsely telling Americans they have been drafted into military service. https://t.co/dt3eSxPnRb— CNN (@CNN) January 9, 2020
In a statement issued on its official website, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command said that the government agency "has received multiple calls and emails about these fake text messages and wants to ensure Americans understand these texts are false and were not initiated by this command or the U.S. Army. The decision to enact a draft is not made at or by U.S. Army Recruiting Command. The Selective Service System, a separate agency outside of the Department of Defense, is the organization that manages registration for the Selective Service."
Meanwhile, the Selective Service System clarified on Facebook that the agency "is conducting business as usual. In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the President would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft." In a follow-up post on January 6, the agency warned citizens of "websites claiming to be the Selective Service that charge for registration." The SSS informed people that they wouldn't be able to register via such fraudulent websites and that trying to do so would put their personal information at risk. The post also clarified that the official Selective Service System website is the only means to complete official online registration.
Speaking to Insider, a spokesperson from US Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) said that the text messages were being sent "across the country from different brigades" this week. "This isn't anything we're doing. This is fraudulent," the spokesperson stated. Screenshots of the fraudulent messages reveal that the sender falsely claims to have attempted to contact the recipient a number of times and in some cases warn the recipient that they will "be fined and sent to jail for minimum of 6 years if no reply," reports CNN.
The phony texts order recipients, including a 14-year-old girl, to report for war or face jail. https://t.co/VToRVoDSie— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) January 9, 2020
While spelling and grammatical errors in the text indicate that they are not official correspondence, the usage of real names of Army recruiting commanders in some cases give these messages the false appearance of authenticity, said Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for the US Army Recruiting Command. She added that Army security officials are still investigating the source of these fake recruiting texts and are also yet to determine the number of recipients. However, there haven't been any reports of Americans showing up to recruiting branches after receiving the texts.
Fraudulent text messages circulated around the country this week, falsely ordering young people to report for a military draft. The draft has not been in effect since 1973. https://t.co/VOKJhaTcoy— NYT National News (@NYTNational) January 9, 2020
The last time the draft was implemented was during the Vietnam War in 1973. However, given that these texts were sent out following the US airstrike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani—causing "World War III" and "military draft" to trend on social media—the fake messages are likely to have contributed to the atmosphere of panic.