The Atlantic writes about Anthony Anderson, Stolen Valor Hunter
This is a great article about a friend of mine, Anthony Anderson, who works with us on Stolen Valor cases, it's definitely worth a read, so you can see what we go through with each tip. (And, we get about 5-10 tips a week.)
The day’s first lead arrives in Anthony Anderson’s inbox mid-morning. The tipster says a man claiming to have served in Vietnam with Charles Beckwith, the late founder of the Army’s elite Delta Force, is using that association to sell his training skills to police departments. His story might well be true. But boasts like these fire Anderson’s suspicions.
From a laptop at his kitchen table, in a quiet subdivision outside Columbia, South Carolina, Anderson investigates a particular form of lying that’s come to be known as stolen valor: civilians fibbing about military service, and veterans embellishing their records with bogus claims of battlefield medals and missions with elite units. Fueled by coffee and Coke, he goes about unmasking imposters as a detective might, digging through public records and compiling dossiers. His computer dings with Facebook messages and his phone buzzes with texts, many of them from a loose network of self-styled investigators, mostly veterans themselves, scattered across the country.
Anderson is more reserved, much like I am, about outting people, as he details:
If a lead seems legit, like the one about the Special Operations soldier turned police trainer, Anderson will poke around online to learn more about the person and hopefully find a date of birth or, better yet, a Social Security number. With those, he can access military personnel records, which will show, at the very least, where and when a person served. Freedom of Information Act requests can yield more-detailed documents, like those included with discharge papers, which show war-zone duty and special awards and recognitions. Many records are stored at the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, but not all. Some military branches now keep their own records, so the search process can take months. “I build the case just like I’m taking it to trial,” Anderson says. “If a jury wouldn’t look at it and decide that person’s guilty, I won’t post it.”
Anyway, it's a great story, and you get a good view of the kind of work that we go into looking for these guys.
And, as Anderson notes, this is the final goal:
Anderson condemns false accusations, noting that he attempts to contact the subjects of his investigations before posting his findings, to hear their side. He says some apologize and admit the duplicity; others stick to their stories and threaten to sue or even harm him. Some plead with him not to publish; others say they don’t care—until, that is, their name shows up in a Google search, for friends and employers alike to see. This is part of Anderson’s purpose: He wants his website and Facebook page to provide public shaming, so as to deter this sort of behavior in the first place.