For second time in three years, Polk County man is accused of 'stolen valor'

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 02:21:40-05

For the second time since 2014, a Polk County man is accused of impersonating a military officer and scamming people out of money.

Hillsborough County deputies arrested Kyle Barwan on Wednesday in Plant City on a Polk County warrant amounting to stolen valor.

“I was a victim of being nice,” said Katie Brees, who fell victim to Barwan’s scam just this past Christmas.

Bree said Barwan claimed to be a West Point grand who speaks five languages and is currently a high ranking officer in the military.

He later came up with a sob story, according to investigators, about raising money for his friend injured in combat.

“He asked for money and I gave the money because I thought it was something for the military,” she said.

As it turns out, Barwan enlisted in the National Guard but got kicked out months later. He was never deployed.

When Brees figured it out, she contacted a national blog that researches cases of stolen valor and they already knew about him.

Barwan served time in jail back in 2014 for impersonating a military officer again.

“If you do something like this you are absolutely going to jail. There’s no doubt about it,” said Sheriff Grady Judd with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Judd said when they got the case the quickly untangled his lies.

It appears his obsession with the military has now turned into a sneaky way to steal.

“He’s a con man,” Judd said.

There’s no telling how many other people fell for Barwan’s scam, but he clearly has a history of it.

Trees — who has several family members in the military — doesn’t care about the money, but does care about the disrespect to the real men and women who serve.

“Why would anybody ever lie about that? Why would anybody say they fought for our country when they never did,” she said.