Walt Alert: US marine with a Purple Heart exposed as a fraud

Noble intentions, perhaps, but another Walter nonetheless - sorry if this topic's already in play lads, please feel free to merge or move as you see fit.

US marine with a Purple Heart exposed as a fraud

A former 'US marine' who claimed to have been decorated with a Purple Heart and campaigned for the plight of homeless military veterans has been exposed as a fake who is actually a former psychiatric patient.

By Tom Leonard in New York
Published: 4:40PM BST 05 Oct 2009

Richard Strandlof, founder of a Colorado Springs-based veterans organisation, at a press conference in 2008. Photo: AP

Richard Strandlof, 32, is being prosecuted under America's Stolen Valour Act over claims he received the Purple Heart, Silver Star and other military decorations.

He faces up to a year in prison and a $250,000 (£157,000) fine if convicted of a charge of making false claims about receipt of military decorations or medals.

Prosecutors say that Mr Strandlof adopted the name Capt Rick Duncan when he founded the Colorado Veterans Alliance (CVA) in 2007.

Purporting to have survived the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, served three tours in Iraq and been wounded at the battle of Fallujah, he was interviewed widely in the media and his speeches were posted on the internet video site YouTube.

In those speeches, he also described how he had a metal plate in his head and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

However, members of his group became suspicious about Capt Duncan's background and why he never wore medals. Asked about them at a fundraising event, he allegedly said wearing them "would appear egotistical".

When the FBI was alerted and approached the US Naval Academy, agents were told that no Capt Rick Duncan had ever graduated as a marine officer.

According to prosecutors who say he has no military experience at all, Mr Strandlof later admitted to the FBI that he "pulled the name Duncan off the internet".

The FBI also claims Mr Strandlof used the alias of Rick Pierson and as a war protester in Reno, Nevada, co-ordinated an anti-war group called the World Can't Wait.

"I think he probably is a real con artist. It's tragic. His ideas were to do good and help the vets, but people were deeply hurt by what he did," Richard Strandlof, his grandfather and a real veteran, told the Denver Post.

The Valour Act was passed in 2006 to make it an offence to lie even verbally about earning military medals. Previously, an imposter had to be caught wearing the medals.
I wish our Services were as well thought off by HMG that they would have the balls to put legislation in place to be able to prosecute our walts in the same way.

I look forward to hearing the sentence.
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