Fake Draft Texts Prompt Warning From Military

The U.S. Army is warning Americans about a wave of “fraudulent text messages” being sent that falsely say that they’ve been drafted into military service. The messages appear to have been sent to individuals nationwide and some used the real names of Army recruiting commanders for the appearance of authenticity. It is unclear how many fake recruiting texts may have been sent.

Screenshots of the texts were provided by U.S. Army Recruiting Command. They instruct the recipient to report to the nearest Army recruiting branch “for immediate departure to Iran.” They also include the threat that the recipient would be “fined and sent to jail for minimum 6 years if no reply.” So far there have been no reports of Americans showing up to recruiting branches as a result of the texts.

The U.S. Army Recruiting Command does not have the authority to enact the draft. The Selective Service System, an independent agency, handles draft registrations and would manage the draft in an emergency.

The draft hasn’t been active since early 1973, during the Vietnam War. To draft citizens into the military, Congress and the President would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft.

The fake texts apparently began to circulate shortly after an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed Iran’s top military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran responded, launching missiles at Iraqi military bases housing U.S. personnel. The Pentagon later announced that it would be deploying thousands of additional troops to the Middle East, catching military families off guard. World Word III memes almost immediately began circulating on the internet.

The fake messages could become the first test of the new Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law last week. Under the law, government regulators can go after robo-texters and seek fines of up to $10,000 per violation. If the texts are coming from a spoofed phone number, they may also violate the Truth in Caller ID Act. Authorities are still tracing the source of the texts.