BOSTON (CBS) – Police say they have caught the man posing as a Cape Cod Marine who was killed in Afghanistan. Matthew Pucino died four years ago on his fourth tour of duty in the Middle East. But for two years someone was impersonating him on Internet dating websites, and even put up a phony Facebook page. “That somebody could use Matthew’s name, his pictures and dishonor him is disgusting,” said his sister Lisa Haglof of Sagamore Beach.
Twenty year old Brandon Ashraf of Cheektowaga, NY has been charged with Criminal Impersonation in the second degree. Police say he used information and photos of the Green Beret and even went as far as to set up a meeting from one of the dating sites with a woman in Florida.
“To me it’s a new low that anyone would do that to an individual who lost his life protecting your freedom,” said sister Melissa Pucino. It was the decorated war hero’s sisters who helped police crack the case.
In an unusual twist, Ashraf was the one who alerted them to the fake page, an effort they believe to cover his tracks. “At first I thought he was the good guy, I thought he had done us a favor, until he started communicating,” said Lisa Haglof. They started searching Brandon Ashraf, and found he also used their brother’s name and photos on a dating website, and some women started reaching out.
The family is trying to understand how someone could betray a special forces soldier, or anyone. “Obviously for Brandon it was a lure, something he wished he could have done and he just can’t,” said Haglof.
They are defending not just their brother, but hope their case will serve as a warning. “I’ll keep my eyes open my ear to the ground. We’ll keep pushing,” said Melissa Pucino.
Ashraf has been released on his own recognizance.