Earlier this week, the FBI took into custody a Maryland man who they believe lied about his military and educational background. Part of the credit for the arrest went to California students, former military men themselves, who reported Hillar to the Monterey Institute of International Studies. But part of it also belongs to a social networking website for Green Berets, which discovered problems with Bill Hillar's background last October.
"They didn't do anything. They didn't do anything until we exposed him," says Jeff Hinton, a retired Master Sergeant. "Which really irritates the snot out of us."
A thread entitled "William G. Hillar Special Forces FRAUD" appeared on the website www.professionalsoldiers.com in October.
"Another Special Forces Fraud bagged and tagged," the post reads. "If anyone would like to write some of Bill's clients and inform them of his fraud feel free. I have Bill's "Reserve Coast Guard Radarman" records."
People did write, according to Hinton. Organizations that worked with Hillar were notified by other special forces officers who visit the site, he says. The takedown began last year, when Hinton received a letter asking him to check out Hillar.
That kind of request comes in a lot, Hinton says, and he's outed frauds before. This time, Hillar claimed to be a retired Army special forces officer, a small, elite group of soldiers, who apparently didn't remember his name.
"For him to say he's in special forces and no one knew him,' Hillar says. "That's complete cow manure."
At first, Hinton says he thought Hillar might have been part of a National Guard unit. He checked out his military records and examined his website. Among the tipoffs: the term "tactical counterterrorism," which was a course topic Hillar listed.
"There's no such thing as the term 'tactical counterterrorism,'" Hinton says.
Hillar, was taken into custody at his Millersville, Md., home Tuesday. Authorities say they also believe he faked his educational credentials.
"These guys are using our reputation to scam innocent people," Hinton says. "It really makes us angry."