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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 1/26/2017 

 PCSO Deputies Charge Man With Stolen Valor After Receiving Tip  

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, PCSO deputies obtained an arrest warrant for 27-year-old Kyle Christopher Barwan of Lakeland for Soliciting Funds/Misrepresenting Military Service (F-3). 

FSS 817.312 - Unlawful use of uniforms, medals, or insignia.(1) A person may not misrepresent himself or herself as a member or veteran of the military or wear the uniform of or any medal or insignia authorized for use by members or veterans of the military which he or she is not authorized to wear while soliciting for charitable contributions or for the purpose of material gain.

In December 2016, PCSO received a tip from someone who read a blog about Barwan impersonating military officers. During the investigation, deputies learned Barwan has previously been arrested and charged federally for impersonating an officer in the military, in two different states (Kentucky and Illinois). Barwan befriended a Polk County woman online, and told her many lies about his military service while also soliciting money from her "to benefit one of his fellow soldiers who was injured in the war."

Barwan was taken into custody in Plant City on January 25th, and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on the Polk County warrant. He will be transferred to the Polk County Jail at a later time.

"Lying about being in the military to steal money from someone is not only egregious, it's against the law. It's also a slap in the face to all the fine men and women across the nation who have served in our country's military with honor. Kyle Barwan is a disgrace." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

The following is an excerpt from his affidavit, and is self-explanatory:
Sometime during December 2016, the victim met the suspect, Kyle Barwan, on an online social networking website known as www.POF.com (Plenty of Fish). During their online chatting sessions, Barwan told the victim that he was a Major in the United States Army Special Forces and he had just returned state side from a 5-year deployment in Afghanistan and England. The victim eventually met Barwan in person several times and would pick him from his residence located on Glen Road in Lakeland. Barwan continued to tell the victim that he was a Major in the Army. When Barwan's cell phone would ring, the caller ID would display "US Government."  

Barwan showed the victim pictures from his cell phone, depicting himself in a desert camouflage uniform. Barwan also showed the victim a video of what she described as a war video. During the video, Barwan stated it was a video of his unit storming a building and that he was shot in the face. Barwan told the victim that he was a "mercenary" and worked for the CIA. Barwan told the victim that she could not tell anyone where he works, or what he does or she could be killed. Barwan told the victim that he graduated from West Point Military Academy. Barwan told the victim that he had special skills and could kill people. Barwan told the victim that he speaks five languages. The victim told me she believed Barwan was a Military Officer based on his stories and the pictures/videos he showed her.

On 12/23/2016, the victim again picked up Barwan from his residence. Barwan told the victim that he needed to get into an online game-playing (Call of Duty) tournament to benefit one of his fellow soldiers who was killed in the war. Barwan told the victim that he needed a new game controller because his was broken. Barwan asked the victim for $80 to buy the new controller. The victim stated that she believed the money would go toward a charitable tournament and she believed Barwan was a Military Officer. The victim responded to her bank with Barwan. The victim withdrew $200 cash and gave Barwan $60 for his online charity tournament. The victim provided me with a copy of this bank record for evidence. Barwan and the victim then went to the GameStop located in the Lakeland Square Mall, where Barwan purchased $60 worth of Microsoft credits to play online. The victim told me that she believed Barwan was a Military Officer at this time and that the money was going toward a charitable organization. The victim stated she would not have given Barwan the money if she had known he was not actually an Officer.

On 12/24/2016, the victim had Barwan over at her family's residence for a Christmas Eve celebration. Barwan received a phone call from the "US Government." Barwan then told everyone he had been promoted to a Captain. The victim's family members, who have prior military service, became suspicious of Barwan's claims/stories. The victim conducted an online search for Barwan and saw several news stories where he had been arrested in the past for posing as a military officer. The victim confronted Barwan about these stories but Barwan told her the government had set him up and they were untrue.

On 01/06/2017, I met with the victim and conducted a sworn recorded interview with her where she confirmed the above information. The victim confirmed she wanted Barwan prosecuted for his fraudulent practices and she believes there are other victims. The victim provided me with a bank statement from 12/23/2016 where she withdrew $200 from her account. The victim stated she gave $60 of this to Barwan. I placed this statement into evidence. The victim correctly identified Barwan in a photo line up.

I obtained Barwan's Report of Separation and Record of Service from the Army National Guard of Kentucky. Barwan enlisted in the Army National Guard of Kentucky on 03/20/2007 and was discharged on 01/22/2008 at the rank of Private 2nd Class, which is the first promotion most enlisted Soldiers can earn after completing basic combat training. Barwan was discharged for failure to meet medical procurement standards and his character of service is listed as "uncharacterized." An uncharacterized discharge from the military is an entry-level separation issued when the enlisted person has fewer than 180 days of service. I completed a Request Pertaining to Military Records, SF180, and sent it to the National Personnel Records Center. I received a response stating no other Military records were located. These records prove that Barwan is no longer affiliated with the Army/Army National Guard, is not an Officer, was never deployed, and was never injured in the line of duty. 

Barwan violated F.S.S. 817.312 by misrepresenting himself as a member of the United States Army while soliciting and obtaining charitable contributions of $60 from the victim. 
It should be noted the Barwan has a history of committing these types of crimes as shown below: 

05/2012 - Felony Theft by Deception (Kentucky)
10/2012 - False Impersonation of an Officer of Military (Kentucky); Sentenced to 16 months federal prison followed by 1 year supervised release
09/2014 - False Impersonation of an Officer of Military 2 counts (Illinois); Sentenced to 5 months jail