Florida man busted after years of claiming to be a war hero to collect benefits

Edward Liroff

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WTHR) - A Florida man is facing fraud charges after years of posing as a war hero.

Police say Edward Liroff pocketed benefits due to military veterans for years, claiming he received 21 medals of honor in 16 years of military service.

"He definitely embellished a lot," said Port St. Lucie Police Ofc. Joseph Byrne.

For years, Liroff told stories about being shot twice in combat and rescuing two soldiers out of a burning helicopter. He showed off his Purple Heart license plate and driver's license with a veterans classification and even had the official government form issued when police leave the service.

Police say Liroff used that form to collect veterans' benefits, but when he used it to apply for a code enforcement job, Officer Byrne wasn't buying it.

"He obviously was able to fool the Department of Veterans Affairs, he was able to fool the State of Florida, he was able to fool previous employers. It wasn't until I took the time to research it that he got caught," Byrne said.

Byrne is a 16-year military veteran himself and is familiar with the DD214 form Liroff submitted. What gave him away was Liroff said he enlisted in the Army at the age of 16 and misspelled several words.

"Mr. Liroff actually went so far as to getting a Ranger tattoo. He introduced himself to all of his neighbors as a combat veteran," Byrne said.

That included his next door neighbor Marcus Keller, an Army veteran. Liroff introduced himself as a fellow vet.

"The thing that gets me the most is that he was going to PTSD classes and I've had close friends of mine die from PTSD. That hit me pretty hard," Keller said.

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