Americans Are Receiving Fake Texts Saying They've Been Selected for Military Draft and Face 'Immediate Departure' to Iran

Fake text messages are circulating in the U.S. this week telling recipients they have been selected for a military draft—and face jail time if they fail to respond.

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran spiked following the assassination of military general Qassem Soleimani, texts purporting to be from the U.S. Army claimed the recipient would have to travel to their closest military branch for "immediate departure" to the Middle East.

The U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) confirmed texts had been sent "throughout the country" this week but assured citizens they are fraudulent.

"Army Recruiting Command 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 division said in a blog post on its website.

"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."

On its Facebook account, U.S. Army recruitment officials stressed official communication about a military draft would not be sent to people via texts, phone calls or direct messages. A search of social media shows multiple people were sent variations of the same enlistment threat.

"In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the president would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft," the USAREC noted.

It remains unknown who is responsible for the texts, how many were sent, and how recipient phone numbers were obtained.

Kelli Bland, director of public affairs at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, told Newsweek: "We are unsure at this point how many text messages have been sent, but recruiters have been sent screenshots from individuals in various parts of the country who have received random messages stating they are being drafted or eligible for the draft.

"The verbiage of the message has varied, but some groups of people have received the exact same message. Some have included fake names claiming to be Army recruiters, and others have used real names of leaders within our command," Bland added, via email.

Fact check: The @USArmy is NOT contacting anyone regarding the draft.

Text messages currently circulating are false and are not official Army communications.

Read more:

— U.S. Army Recruiting (@usarec) January 7, 2020

The @USArmy is not contacting anyone regarding the draft. If you receive texts, phone calls or direct messages about a military draft, IGNORE them. They are not official communications from the U.S. Army.

— US Army Fort Benning (@FortBenning) January 7, 2020

In one screenshot released by officials, a recipient in Florida was threatened with major penalties if they didn't respond to the message. The fraudulent text warned: "We're aware that this number is not disconnected, you'll be fined and sent to jail for minimum 6 years if no reply."

The draft has not been in place since 1973.

Since then, the U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force. Registering for Selective Service does not enlist a person into the U.S. Army and recruitment operations are unchanged, officials say.

Last week, as "World War III" widely trended on social media, the website for the Selective Service System briefly went offline as people flocked to the domain. "Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time," the agency said.

On Tuesday, the Selective Service System warned some websites had been created in an attempt to dupe people into paying money to be registered, and stressed they too were fraudulent. "You will not be registered and your personal information may be at risk," officials noted on Twitter.

Stock: American military uniform
File photo: The American flag attached to the American military uniform. iStock

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