Jan. 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM ET
An "Internet Lothario" purloined pictures from the memorial site for a handsome U.S. Army Ranger to chat up women on a fake Facebook profile, leading them on and then blowing them off.
Fictional New Yorker "Dylan Sorvino" pretended to be a former law student stationed in Iraq, the New York Post reports. To support the masquerade, he posted as his profile picture photos of Sgt. Roberto Sanchez, a 24-year- old Florida native and U.S. Army Ranger killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2009 after five tours of duty. A woman familiar with the "Dylan Sorvino" profile alerted Sanchez's family after she saw the same photos on a military website.
Sanchez's fellow Rangers and friends confronted "Sorvino" on his fake profile, and it quickly disappeared.
Women, it seems, were the target audience for this fake Facebook profile, via which "Sorvino" would flirt, play poker, and set up dates for his "return to the states," and then never show up.
"I certainly wasn't prepared for you, you're [sic] gorgeous smile, your wit and you're [sic] ability to make me miss someone I've never met. How ironic, I had to travel 8,000 miles, go to war to meet this girl," the so-called "Sorvino" wrote to Minnesota divorcee Carolyn Hinz, 37.
Such was the guano "Sorvino" fed the Facebook women he friended, carrying on with tales of wartime glory and nonspecific info blamed on the need for "national security," until his faux departure date from Iraq neared. Plans were made to meet stateside, and then he'd never show.
"This guy went on the Ranger battalion Web site looking for a fallen soldier to use," Sanchez's mother, Wendy Holland told the New York Post. "My son died for this country. How can anyone do that? It's so heartless."
Heartless, and perhaps illegal.
As the New York Post points out, "misusing a photograph that shows Sanchez's combat infantryman badge and basic parachutist wings may violate the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which makes it illegal to falsely claim military awards or wear military decorations."
An FBI spokesperson told the Post it's unlikely to launch a fraud investigation that doesn't involve financial losses. As of last week however, Web impersonation is illegal in California, with the somewhat foggy law bringing up to a $1,000 fine and as much as a year in jail for anyone posing as someone else online. And no matter where "Sorvino" lives, he may not be immune.
"Online impersonators living outside the state may be affected, said Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, told the Bloomberg Businessweek while the bill awaited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature last year."It's impossible for people to respect geographic borders when sending content over the Internet."
So while the fake profile with its pilfered photos may be gone from Facebook, this may not be the last we hear from "Sorvino."