Medal of Honor Among Thieves

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The Congressional Medal of Honor Society reports that there are 113 living recipients of the nation's highest military award, but an FBI agent said impostors outnumber the true heroes.

"There are more and more of these impostors, and they are literally stealing the valor and acts of valor of the real guys," said Tom Cottone, who tracks such pretenders in addition to his work on an FBI violent crime squad in West Paterson, N.J.

Some fakers merely brag about receiving the award -- and that's not illegal -- but some impostors wear military uniforms and bogus medals. "There are guys out there wearing the Medal of Honor who didn't earn it," he said.

It's hard to know the exact number of impostors, but there are about 25 pending investigations, said Cottone, who has been investigating fakers since 1995.

World War II Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge of Signal Mountain, Tenn., got flimflammed out of his medal -- at a military reunion, of all places -- when someone offered to help recondition it and gave him back a fake version of the award.

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