Stolen valor? Man confronts “soldier” in uniform whom he believes is an impersonator

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(CNN) – A Philadelphia veteran says he confronted a soldier impersonator at a mall on Black Friday, and video of the confrontation is going viral. IMPORTANT NOTE: There is some strong language in the linked video of the confrontation. Viewer discretion is advised.

WPVI in Philadelphia decided not to show the man’s face because, at this time, he has not been charged with a crime.

While the man’s uniform may have fooled some, it didn’t take a Purple Heart recipient long at all to spot it as a fake — and he wasn’t standing for it.

26-year-old Ryan Berk served as a sergeant in the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan. He says he spotted a guy in the mall dressed in fatigues, and he says it didn’t take long for him to notice things didn’t look right.

In the video Berk can be heard saying, “Hey sir. My son would like to meet you. He really admires guys in the Army.”

The man in fatigues replied saying, “Hey buddy, I’m Sean.”

The three minute video moves quickly to Berk quizzing the man in uniform, and finding his answers unsatisfying. Specifically, he asks where the man got the three combat infantry badges the man displayed.

The man said, “Afghanistan.”

Berk asked, “All three?” To which the man confirmed, “All three.”

Berk then said, “You know you need to be in three different campaigns to get three CIBs, right?”

The interrogation goes downhill with Berk finding fault with things like the man’s boots and a misplaced flag patch.

“Why is your flag so low on your shoulder? It should be up here,” Berk said, pointing to the man’s arm.

“Got me on that one, bud,” the man said.

After some harsh words, the man turns, telling Berk they are going to see his Sergeant Major.

Berk says to the man, “Why don’t you admit you are a phony? I have worn that [expletive] uniform and I’ve had friends get killed in Afghanistan wearing that [expletive] uniform. Stolen valor, right here.”

WPVI tracked the man in the uniform to a house in Philadelphia, but no one answered the door. Public records indicate an individual by the same name faced a prior charge in 2003 of impersonating a public servant.

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has asked the US Attorney to look into this recent incident to see if it violates the Federal Stolen Valor Act that makes it illegal to impersonate a soldier to obtain money or a tangible benefit.

KCPQ  in Seattle, Washington checked into the man’s claim of received training at Fort Lewis. Officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord confirmed that they have no record that the uniformed man ever served at the base.

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