Family of fallen soldier outraged after picture used for scam

PORTLAND, Ore. - The father of a local fallen soldier was stunned to find out that someone was using his son's picture, to plead for online donations, claiming the soldier needed financial help to recover from his wounds.

Sgt. Sean Fennerty, from Corvallis, was killed in Iraq in 2007 and buried in Portland. His father, Dr. Brian Fennerty, said Monday that he still can't believe what has happened, and on top of that he's had trouble getting Craigslist to take down the posting.

The ad was posted on the Pensacola, Fla. Craigslist website, claiming the soldier in the photograph, Chris, was hospitalized after losing both legs and needed help covering medical bills. The ad asked everyone to share the ad on Facebook and Twitter with a link to a donation site.

None of it is true. The picture is actually Sgt. Fennerty, who was killed by a roadside bomb.

Someone who served with Fennerty recognized the picture, contacted a newspaper in Florida, which contacted his father, Brian, a doctor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

"So as soon as I saw it, it got my attention, kind of raised the temperature a little bit," he said. "You know, I was mad. My wife and I and our family's goal was to have him remembered for what he did, and you know, this kind of sullies it."

Dr. Fennerty said he's worried about his son's legacy, and he's worried anyone who gets scammed will be angry at the soldier pictured in that ad, never knowing the all-too-real sacrifice his son made.

"It doesn't affect my perspective of what Sean did, but I worry (that) other people now will, instead of honoring those that died there, will start thinking, well, now they're being subjected to a scam," he said.

Sgt. Sean Fennerty is buried at Portland's Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

His family wants to warn people about these kinds of scams and to be careful who they donate to when helping soldiers.

The link for donations on that Craigslist site has been taken down but at last check, the posting itself is still up. KATU News sent its own email about that post directly to Craigslist. It is waiting to hear back from them.

Oregon's military department says this is the first it has heard of a scam using photos of fallen soldiers.