Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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Image of cupid and heartNot everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, romance scammers are now involving their victims in online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: The scammers set up dating profiles to meet potential victims. After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Victims think they’re just helping out their soulmate, never realizing they’re aiding and abetting a crime.  

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account

Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine? If you do an image search and the person’s photo appears under several different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. And if the person’s online profile disappears a few days after they meet you, that’s another tip-off.

Here’s the real deal: Don’t send money to someone you met online — for any reason. If your online sweetheart asks for money, you can expect it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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I have seen this a couple of times. I can tell by their english. One guy, when I asked what he did for a living, he said I sell metal canned food. No salesman in the US would ever say that. This man was supposable from California.

Helen Christiana Terry is a name a scammer has stolen and is using it to extort money from men saying shes a nurse in Nigeria with UNICEF when I contacted UNICEF after she emailed me and I noticed poor english for a nursing student they told me she was a fraud she or whom ever is still using the emails to commit fraud

Please, I think my so called boyfriend is a Nigerian scammer. Someone help me. My heart is to invested. I don't wanna leave him .but I found out he is saying the same thing to other woman. I called him out n he . I need to know y they disappear on the week end please someone any one.

Hello Melanie, I feel what ur going thru, I met someone in EH and his voice didn't match the pic but to find out neither was the pic..in which came clean with but I still believed n him until he asked for my financial support..At that time everything about him I was Leary..I didn't send money and that changed the relationship.He is an African man who lived n LA but was doing "business" n Australia.. Even at time if connecting I tried to do research in him but hit a brick wall..he has a Facebook(I don't) but there is more of story and yes I totally understand how u feel but wanted to say u r not alone..keep ur head up,don't do ANYTHING u don't feel comfortable n doing

Hi Ladies:

I'm so sorry for your pain. These online scammers have no sense of decency. If you notice only one pic or this person escalates his emotions quickly - even before meeting! Then chances are he's a scammer. True love comes from meeting the person face to face, learning about each other in broad daylight - not over the internet!! Don't let yourselves be tricked into thinking these con artists are sincere.

Recently, I was scam by someone from a online dating for money. What do i do? I am lost and don't know how to get out of this situation.

If you gave the scammer your bank or credit card account numbers, contact your bank or credit card company and ask how to protect your accounts.

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. If you sent money by wire transfer service, you can report the scammer to the company.

i am tera 22 reporting the name of LT.GEN.BEN HODGES i am talking to him every day and share a sweet words always and he is very sweet man i know a General can be.

he ask me to open an account to transfer money bank to bank a very large amount of money.and i refuse to do it he still talking to and ask to marry him and sending sweet image of heart all the time it sense like a real one

i meet him in accidentally i did not look for him at all the small message start.he give me email that i have been looking in fake email's and i cant till if they are fake because it is very privet and think it's real but i don't think it is.his profile is Government Army please respond the answer mam Bridget Small i need the answer Please..

Your story shows many signs of a scam.

  1. A person you do not know sends a message.
  2. He uses many kind words. Very soon he wants to marry you. 
  3. He asks you to open a bank account. He asks you to help him transfer money.

If you open a bank account, you tell the bank your name and your social security number. You will be responsible for the account.  

If this is a scam, the man might transfer stolen money into the account. He might ask you to send money to another account. He might ask you to wire the money out of the country. If you do these things, you are helping to commit a crime involving stolen money.  

You could tell him you will not open the account. You can stop sending messages if you don't want to talk.

Thank you so very much :Mam: Bridget Small that's i need it to know about i don't have any experience of any of this.your reply is so helpful to me.i thank you

I don't know which dating site u met this General on, but be aware that I have been sent 2-3 friend requests on Tango with this same name. They continuously keep changing his picture. I have never accepted his friend request. Unfortunately I recently fell victim to a romance scam online. These guys say the most beautiful things n tell u they love adore n want to spend the rest of their lives with you. Please don't buy it. They are scammers that do not care about u whatsoever. They will ask u for money. Most of them pose as widowed engineers with a child. They claim to be successful. What a joke. The name of the person who scammed for a little bit of money is name Patrick Nguyen. Not his real name. They will ask u to open bank accts n give them the username password n Q&As. They will try to transfer money into this acct, with ur name on it, via check. Rubber checks that is. Thank God my bank caught the check which had been altered. I called him out on it. Sure he scammed me for money but in the interim I learned a very valuable lesson. He will get u into serious bank fraud problems.

Jenifer , what site are you on ? I also meet a guy online and he asked me to send the money, I did send and now he is disappeared. His name is Philip Nguyen

Im pretty sure this romance scam is happening too me his name is richard lance says hes a sgt stationed in africa hes got 2 kids wife died 2 years ago etc hes nevet asked for money but asked me to send a gift card to his sone i told him no hes basically made me fall in love anywsys he offered to give me money to help with my kids since my health is so bad i ignorantly gave him my login info he tried depositing a check into it but the check is in someone elses name my bank held it saying itd been altered but then said it will be available on the 21st im not exactly sure what to do or if i should say its fraud

If you tell someone your bank account number they can take money out of your account. A scammer might trick you into helping him transfer stolen money. He could ask you to accept a check in your account, and transfer money. If you get involved in a scheme, you could lose money or personal information and get in legal trouble.

My scanmmer told me his name was Robert Foster and that he was a construction engineer with a daughter who was home schooled. He lived in California. I live in Florida. These guys are far reaching. I was leery at the beginning because he was talking romance at the very beginning. I thought who does that. He wanted to marry me and had not even met me. After 2 months of texting, he asked me for $300 in ITunes cards. I turned him down. I had already covered myself by saying I lived strictly on my social security. Guess he though he'd get what I had. When I turned him down, I didn't expect him to come back but a few days later, he was back romancing again but in 2 weeks he was asking for the money again. None of these sites really tell you what to do when you discover this. Do you go to the police or someone else? Not sure how to report him. I did a reverse phone search and this guy has 10 addresses in California. He could have 10 people or more doing this kind of thing at each address. There should be something they can do to investigate.

I too had a Ben Hodges asking me to transfer money i deleted him quickly

Be careful of a man maned Patrick Lara he is a big scammer also. I know of a couple of women he scammed and he sent me a bad check and the bank told me it was a fake check. Be careful. I also met him on a dating site.

Tara, you need to be very careful with the online dating websites.

What about a guy named Sargent Jimmy Gabriel off of Facebook? He is asking for iTunes card?????

i meet one us army also in the net just a month back. he is asking for call card, and when i tell him i will barrow credit card from my friend he told me no.. i dont like you barrow money to a friend bcs of me.and i tot he is real but i start searching so army scam on internet is everywhere so i start doubt now. i ask asking send an email to me with army email add, it has 'mil' last part so now im confuse please hepl if he is real or not

iTunes card is a way of stealing as well. Since they will not give you a place to send the card, what they will do is ask you to scratch off the part of the card, iTunes says not to. They use that number to somehow get money from it. Has nothing to do with Apps, or music.

Hi I have been contacted by 3 different men (possible scammers) through Facebook I have pictures but as someone said you cannot share them on here. I do however have DM saved to my phone from two of them, one went as far as asking me to purchase an Itunes card for his son for his phone I told him no I don't have the money well he stopped talking to me for awhile that day, when we started talking to me it was from how was your day at work and I think your beatiful and we are made for each other I hope you feel the same as I do ect ect. Well I went along with it until I did a photo reverse search found out the photos were not his they were all over the place from different scammers (Probably the same one). I can later post our conversation and the second one too. The second one claimed he was in the military and I knew better better because I did the reverse photo search on the pictures to and they were all over the place as well. We started emailing each other his IP address pinged him (probably from a software) as being in the UK i went to email him and all my emails came back telling me the email address did not exist so I replied back to his original email he sent me telling him I knew he was a scammer and not from the military.
Just easier for me to insert our conversation then trying to explain in detail. Almost was contacted by a third one who was old looking in his photo (widow which they like to pretend to have the victim in the photo to be) we didn't even talk 2 mins and the account was gone no trace or anything. Must of been one of the scammers I had a previous fun time with online the day before.
Well all I have to say is just be careful who you talk to and please please don't give anyone any money, they get mad they get mad, better them being mad at you then you having no money.

How do you do a reverse picture lookup?

How d u do a reverse picture look up?

Omg this guy I was talking to on that dating site coffee meet bagel his name is "john" he has an army ranger uniform on. As soon as we started chatting almost he said let's chat off this so. E like an idiot gives him my cell # . So this was like almost a month ago. Said he was from New Jersey john philips. Didn't hear from him for about 2 weeks. Omg he texts me at midnight last night said he was captured and bleeding and held hostage and he needs my help. (Now he's supposed to be in Texas so he said 2 weeks ago ) I said so your in Texas???? Held hostage but managed to escape. now today he asks me to send him an ITunes card in 2 places. Ummm no. I blocked him right away.

Hi Unsure in texas, I too have come across guys that are asking for I-Tune gift cards. After taking to one guy three weeks later I discover another one. Both asking for the same card. They both claim to be working on an oil rigs in the Golf Of Mexico. I never sent a thing. Their IDs are jimmy scott and Steve Mark. I am now texting with a guy who just this last weekend was relocated to an oil rig in the same place. Like a lot of these men they say they are engineers working for BP( British Petroleum) or another oil company. He romanced me, telling me how much he loved me and yes I was really falling for this guy. Talking about getting married with in a month of emails, texting, and phone calls. He was addressing me to every one as his wife. When I confronted him about it, he said, he was too old to say girlfriend. Just two days ago he asked me for a gift card because he just had to call his daughter and mommy in the UK, every night. I thought that was strange, ever night ? He clams he has no credit care, only a bank card. Any man that travels from the UK to the USA with not addictional credit source is crazy. He also let me know that he had to give up his computer and phone when he boarded the oil rig. But was able to use the platform phone. I do understand the phone, and I did ask around and some off shore rigs do require that you give up your computer. He had asked me to delete my profile not too long after we met, I told him I did. But my big clue as to any problem was when I went back on the dating sight to save all our emails and his profile for future reference. I noticed he had been on the dating sight the day before. It was not the first time I noticed it. I'm wondering now if he wanted me to deactivate my profile just so I never seen him on the dating sight again. It seems that a lot of these men want you to either delete or deactivate your profile soon after communicating with them. I explained to this guy that I don't have the money to buy him a gift care. He asked for a $150.00 electronic gift card. I had to look it up on the internet. I have not heard back from him yet, but it has only been one day. I hate to think of him as a scammer but at the same time I think he is.

I have been talking to a man who has been calling me his wife from very early on. He also says he is a contractor on the oil rigs. He claimed to have a daughter who was in missionary school in the UK. Somehow she ended up in Nigeria stranded with an expired passport. The money was an issue from the beginning. It started with him asking me to send his daughter a birthday gift and when I asked what he thought was appropriate he told me the new iPhone would be good. I have a lot of photos of him and his daughter. He calls himself Roger Adamo and he is very convincing. I became suspicious early on but was so totally in love that I believed his lies and explainations. This has gone on for many months and it has been a constant plee for financial help from him . There is always some tragic situation that he requires help with the last of which being a car accident his daughter was in and they are both now in Nigeria stranded. She is in a coma and he is without a driver's license so the money is wired to John Obara. Sarah Marsden was supposedly Belinda Adam's teacher who also picked up a wire transfer of cash I sent thru Western Union and MoneyGram. I told him I can't send anymore money and now he is saying he is too weak and can't be strong if I don't stand by him. He says he must see the doctor tomorrow to have his heart checked he thinks he is dying and wants me to care for our daughter should anything happen to him. I feel so foolish for allowing this to go on so long. I knew this was not right but I wanted him so much I just turned a blind eye to everything and all the warning signs were right in front of me. I have phone numbers for him from three dirrerent places in the states...LA and Hawthorne CA.Also one from Pachogue, NY He sent me lots of pictures also. I gave him all of my information and twice he sent fraudulent checks that my bank caught. Thank God! Anyone recognize any of the names I listed or places associated with the phone numbers? Please help.

Hello, I have also been talking with a guy I meet through fb. I would like to know if you can share pictures. Because my guy is all over the place and I fell for the man in in the pictures not the man behind the screen. I have confronted him regarding what I have seen and he gets up set with me......I've been so done.

You can't share pictures on this blog.

Exactly told the same story. Thanking God, that I caught on when asked to send money with money services for gift iPhone for daughters birthday. Called himself NelsonQuan. Supposedly father from Texas and mother from India. As with you, warning signs such as poor English, texts had many errors for "such a well educated man. While in the throws of the "relationship" l fell for calling him on the phone. That song "I've got that loving feeling" described how I felt all the time it was like a drug. I think I was hooked by my need to love as well as feeling loved. Now that it's done, I am working on loving myself and my lord Jesus. I reported him to Instagram and got rid of all messages. At one point he asked to not tell family until they could meet him.

My friend has been talking to a Frank Lashen who is calling her his wife and needs help to get out of Togo. He says he is eating much and needs to pay hotel bill so he can leave and come home to her. Has anyone else talked to a Frank Lashen?

Many of these scammers, I learned, work as a team. So in your case the communications you had in the beginning, with the first 2(?) guys working on an oil rig, were fuel that you likely may respond again to someone in the same situation (3rd guy). And the last (3rd guy) very likely is the same fraudster behind either one, or both, the other fake profiles. It sounds like you are getting it now... just happened to me as well. So the love poems, "with the Lord, you and I, all three of us together..." and "Good morning babe", are not sent from the men you see in the profile photos -- those men are victims too of identity theft. I tried to verify for sure that the guy I was chatting with was for real, or not, by searching using the profile photos... but did not find a one. That was not the result I would have preferred but reinstates the fact of the identity theft and therefore the actual men being impersonated prob have taken all of their photos down from any website. In my case as many here it was a supposed Army Sgt. in Afghanistan, about to retire and looking for someone to spend the rest of his life with, get married. This was not FB, but a dating site where one can post several photos. There was only one photo and just enough info., age, height, and the line "HELLO - Am single here looking for someone spacial to spend the rest of my life with if possible ltr". Most people post 2-4 photos and fill out the profile. Then he asks in you have, or can download now, google Hangouts app (free txt, sms messaging w/call capability). So basically the majority of the chats took place via Hangouts, immediately moving off of dating site (prob so they aren't reported). On this chat app we exchanged more photos and he sent 2 of himself in Army uniform and a couple other ones. Then started saying something about his phone, not working right, hardly at all. Asked for iTunes Gift Card so he could fix it and we can talk on the phone. It goes on, and on, even in a short period of time like 1-2 weeks. Now you're really in love with what the fraudsters being texting based on the photos which seemed very real, they are... they just are not of the person you have been chatting w/it's a scam.

I also was recently talking with a man named Michael Morgan who contacted me through Words With Friends on Facebook. He said he was a petroleum engineer working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He said he was originally from Almeria Spain and was divorced with two kids Nelly and Jeffrey. He talked about wanting to marry me and move me to his mansion in Wyoming. He told me he loved me. This past weekend he told me that he had a problem at work and could not work until he gets an electric heating jacket because the weather was bad and it was for his safety. He kept reminding me that he needed the jacket and he couldn’t afford to buy it and he didn’t have anyone. He told me he lost his credit card during a fishing tournament. He got mad when I didn’t offer any money to buy the jacket and I blocked him. No way was I going to give money to him. I hadn’t ever met him. My daughter googled his name and said he is a romance scammer.

Yes, someone asked me for an iTunes card also. Was posing as an army person as well.

The military has programs to help these men out. I have reading a lot of this messages on this board. And. I looked some thing s up about bank account and ids and weddings, and green cards and more. If a person does not have a green card , they use women to come to us the military has a emerancey program for the man and has far has needing money to come home the military will fly them home.also becareful
How you speak to them . Good luck

There is a man supposedly in Malaysia with a German accent, using the image of Dr Richard Cravatts (very handsome). This scammer uses the name Henrik Markus, has a sick 11 yr old son in England, just had brain surgey. He says he has a contract with Petronas Oil and now cannot leave the country due to a tax issue. Yes, I sent him money, in spite of all the Western Union warnings. I opened a bank acct, too. How foolish for a highly educated, divorced woman. If they dont skype or facetime-BIG WARNING ladies. Id like to shout from the mountain tops but right now Im defeated, hurt and angry.

Shellbell54, youre not alone! I spent more than you did in spite of WU and money gram warnings. I lost evry single cent and plenty of loans just to send to this fake military. I am a highly educated woman but been blind. Now, I am beginning a nwe life after losing hundreds of $$$$.Nothing left but loans with high interest rates only went to theses criminals. What a life but we need to move on. Lesson learned...Never trust a stranger. Good luck and be blessed.

a guy name Leslie H Dawson on instagram was asking for ITunes cards also before he says he is in us army

I had the same thing happen to me, he said he is in Iraq in the army. Asked for a Itunes card.

I just started to talk to Military guy David W Tucker talks about man n wife died. Left at early age had a 2yr old daughter. We started off just getting to know each other the got a little serious then asked for Itune card for invest in trading something about a sub card and apps? Used Fortex. My real military friend said to ask for unit number and where he stationed at forboot camp. My friend is going to look him up. It will suck if he is a scam. He found me on FB.

I have been in same situation. His name used was duhon donald lee jr. Stated he was sgt in Us army. Widowed with a daughter. Stated wife died when stationed in SA and that his daughter is there in boarding school. Said did not have access to money. Asked if i could send money to nanny sister as she was going there. So stupidly sent money to new york for his daughter birthday.

Than he began asking for bank info. Stated he wanted to make a trasfer from his bank. He tried to get my ss number and acct number. Bank said he only neede swift code number. He transferred money. Bank said it cleared. Than two days later bank wanted money back. Stated dep. Made from stolen checks. He said it must of been an error and he would clear it up.

Please all beware of anyone asking for bank info. His English was very good when texting and no accent when talking on phone. I trusted him and awaited for him to get the bank straightened out. He than asked for more money for his daughter. At this point asked for his military email. He gave me an email with different name. At this point i blocked him.

Hi. My mother is going through a similar experience. She's not sure if the man she is talking to is real... robyn leigh steadman. Her story is almost same as yours, she has sent him a lot of money already, mostly for his daughter who is going to boarding school in Africa (or something like that) she also sent her money for a birthday party. he says he has no family just the family of deceased wife who is supposedly caring for girl while he is working overseas for an oil company as an engineer. When you say SA do you mean San Antonio or something else? Because this man states that he lives in houston but hasnt been home for a while. But I wanted to know if they sent you pictures of the girls party like they did my mom? They sure do make everything seem believable and I just want to protect my mom.

If your mother met someone online, and he is asking her for money, there's a good chance it is a scam.

Scammers often make up stories about their work and families and ask for money for emergenices, or to care for their children. Often the scammer claims he has money, but can't get to it right now because of a problem with his bank or business.

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account and help them by depositing checks or transferring money

I too have been talking to a man on face book messenger. Promising me the same as all here. This man is Col john Nicholson is asking for money for his daughter in Ghana. He's stationed in Kabul afgistan.

I'm sure this is a scam, his supposedly 15 yr daughter emailed me for money sent Beto her. No money has been sent nor will be. Why would a highly decorated officer risk losing his retirement? Help this needs to stop!po

Gen.John Nicholson is married. He has two grown childern. His daughter is in the military. He does not have a FB page. Your talking to a scammer dear. I know for a fact! Google Gen John. He is in Kabul with the resolute support mission. I bet he told you his wife is alcoholic and has multiple affairs.

This Gen. John Nicholson imposter set me a Skype request. I never accept unknown requests but hit the wrong button by mistake. My first question was why anyone would send a stranger a request.
I googled the General while the imposter answered. I then proceeded to respond to his request to get to know each other while I caught him in lies. Hahahaha! Single father of a 12 yo boy whose mother died in a crash 4 years ago.
I posed my questions in vernacular anyone originally from the US would understand. He, of course stumbled and said he didn't understand upon nearly each of my questions. I had fun and even led him by saying "gosh, I feel SO bad for your motherless child and wish I could do ANYTHING for you but I need to go for now." When he said he'd msg me another time, I said "no, you wont.t I I knew you were not Gen John and just messing around for my amusement. Good luck with whatever your God does to you."
Now just looking for how to report him! Tee hee,

Ladies look out for Captain Samson Daniel. Says he is in Munich and retiring out in Feb 2017. From Cincinnati. Son Elii 14 years old. Mother deaceased. Loved me by second conversation. Led me from Facebook to Hangout
Although his english was pretty good...you could tell english was not his mother tongue. Picture is of handsome soldier 47 ans looking fine.
I knew he was full of ____ almost immediately. The way he talkedngabe him away.
Please beware

Hey do you happen to have pictures still??My cousin is talking to a man almost sounds the same details.

I been dating a man on facebook and we star talk on facebook and he ask me out and we star talk in hangout then he ask me of i could send him money i say yes i will so i send him money though Western union then he ask some more so i dd but this was brfore i knew he was on mititary scammers so i stop send him money 2month ago of jan 2017 and i was send him money from 2015 i take off my hangout and i delelate him off everything i have not text him over 1 month it hurt me alot but i get over him

human beings have lost their sanity... God help us. i cut someone using my pictures today.. i was so disappointed that i had to delete all the pictures in my fb profile

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