Don't fall for the Recovering American Soldier hoax

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

US stampI've seen a post flying around Facebook (and so have others, thanks to those Naked Security readers who send us tips!) that for all intents and purposes, has its heart in the right place:

When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take ONE CARD and SEND it to this address: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these soldiers could get to bring up their spirits! Feel free to repost. This is a wonderful thing to do !!

This sounds so wonderful, doesn't it? The small problem here is sadly this is a hoax.

The US Postal Service will not accept any mail addressed to "Any Soldier", "Any Wounded Soldier" etc.

According to Snopes, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center agrees. So while people are well-meaning by reposting this story, the cards would either be returned to the sender or sent to the Dead Letter Office.

This hoax has been around for some time and is well documented, but it seems to come back around every year and clutter the inboxes and feeds of folks.

Now before I'm accused of being a Scrooge, there *is* a legitimate program for those who wish to partake. It's called "Holiday Mail for Heroes" and is sponsored through the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes.

Don't forget you should join the Sophos Facebook page, where we not only debunk hoaxes and chain letters, but we also keep you up-to-date on the latest rogue applications, scams and malware attacks threatening Facebook users.

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16 Responses to Don't fall for the Recovering American Soldier hoax

  1. Sarch · 1422 days ago

    Even if the Post Office did accept mail for "any soldier", it wouldn't make a difference, because the Walter Reed Army Medical Center closed it's doors last summer.

    • Annika · 1422 days ago

      Well that's interesting as my husband was JUST there...he stayed at Walter Reed for a little over 24 hours before being moved to another hospital.

      • Annika,

        The original Walter Reed Army Hospital, in Washington, D.C., did indeed close this summer. The facility in Bethseda, MD. that replaced it kept the Walter Reed name.

  2. Sam · 1422 days ago

    Is this the same for the UK one doing the rounds?

    • John · 1422 days ago

      As Sam asks.... is the UK one with identical wording a hoax????

    • Beth Jones · 1422 days ago

      I'm not positive. Apparently there are recovering soldiers at the medical facility listed in the UK one. We've not had any announcement from the hospital so we can't say for certain if it's a hoax or not.

  3. Andrea · 1422 days ago

    OK, but the email going around says to address to "Recovering Solider" in its in CARE OF a hospital. The PO should be responsible for getting ANY mail in c/o of institution TO the institution, then its the hospital's responsibility to do what they will with it. YES???

    • Beth Jones · 1422 days ago

      Not necessarily. The hospital listed in the American one (when it was still open, see above) stated that they wouldn't accept the letters either as it could open up ways to harm the recovering soldiers. They said they too would return to sender. Again, I have no idea about the UK hospital.

  4. Beth · 1422 days ago

    I wouldn't really call this a hoax. I think it's just misinformation. I've heard about sending cards to "Any Soldier" all my life. Good to clear things up, though.

  5. spike7451 · 1422 days ago

    I have E-Mailed SSAFA Norton House to see what the score is.Last year we sent pressies & decorations to Norton & Selly Oak as the were chaps in residence there & it'll be,sadly,the same this year.
    As soon as I hear back I'll post the reply.


  6. Christine · 1422 days ago

    Just seen the UK one, so yes it is around, advised to click on legitimate link

  7. Kevin Farris · 1422 days ago

    Is there a way we can send well wishes to a soldier this holiday season?
    I would like to express my thanks to all of the fighting men and women.

  8. Randall · 1419 days ago

    Send it to "Holiday Mail for Heroes." Not a hoax:

    • kip143per · 1045 days ago

      this is where you send the mail to and they will distribute it to the service members

  9. Bill · 1415 days ago

    Like Beth said, 'Any Soldier' was valid at one time for sure. During the early 90s for what has been called the Persian Gulf War but officially known as Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm, etc. we received letters and boxes addressed to 'Any Airman' and 'Any Soldier'.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. R2C · 1045 days ago

    Although I generally try to debunk Hoaxes, I'm not going to bother with this one, on the contrary - I support it!

    If a few misguided and misinformed people want to spend money on the U.S. post office, good! They could use it :)

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About the author

Beth Jones Senior Threat Researcher, SophosLabs US Beth manages the day-to-day research and analysis activities of incoming suspicious malware threats that arrive in SophosLabs via customers, partners and prospects. Beth has worked in Sophos's Boston lab for more than five years and brings nearly a decade of network security experience to Sophos.