As President Donald Trump straps the U.S. to a powder keg with Iran, people have been getting alarming text messages telling them they’ve been drafted into the Army and should expect to be shipped off to the Middle Eastern nation – even though the draft has been abolished since 1973.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) issued an advisory warning of hoax texts that have been circulating “throughout the country” this week.
“U.S. 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 advisory reads.
In the screenshots of the texts obtained by TPM, an anonymous sender posing as an Army recruiter informs the recipient that they’ve “been marked eligible” and must go to their nearest military branch “for immediate departure to Iran.”
The recipient is then told to contact a certain recruiter using a phone number provided in the text.
“The verbiage of the message has varied, but some have included fake names claiming to be Army recruiters, and others have used real names of leaders within our command,” USAREC spokesperson Lisa Ferguson, who provided the screenshots, told TPM in an email. “The numbers have been real; for instance (888) 550-ARMY is the actual number to our Go Army call center where people can call for information about joining.”
One of the more menacing messages threatens the recipient with fines and even prison if they do not call the number provided.
“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 text reads.
“Army security personnel are looking into the origin of the messages,” Ferguson said.
The U.S. Selective Service System (SSS) is the only agency responsible for the draft process. And it too has received numerous panicked calls in recent days over false rumors about involuntary deployment to Iran.
SSS spokesperson Matthew Tittmann told TPM that while his agency has not received any reports of hoax texts, the SSS has been flooded with “thousands” of inquiries stemming from Twitter rumors spread by fraudulent accounts, one of which pretended to be Trump.
According to Tittmann, the rumors began shortly after Trump authorized a drone strike on Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani last week.
“On Friday morning, we noticed increased social media traffic stating specifically there would be a resumption of the draft,” the spokesperson said. “That created some concern, and that concern sort of spun.”
However, those fearing involuntary deployment to Iran can take comfort in the fact that the draft can only be reinstated in the unlikely event that Congress passes legislation on it.
Additionally, the possibility of war was diminished somewhat on Wednesday when Trump declined to take further military action against Iran after its non-lethal retaliatory strikes on Iraqi bases holding U.S. troops on Tuesday.
Iran “appears to be standing down,” Trump said.