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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.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Romance Scams

Comments

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.

Believe me it happened to me...

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.

Hello i am talking to a person, he said his name is terry Howell he has a son name leo that goes to school on Turkey. He also ask me to get him 300 in iTunes cards 3 100.00 i didnt do it
Now hes asking me to send his son in Turkey a birthday gift to contact the schooland wire them 1200.for power station 5, he even gave me the schools email

I think the same guy got to me. I got red flags right away when he asked for 300 ITunes cards and called the police. They referred me to an FBI site that had a form. My guy's name was Cedric Chapman. He was "orthopedic surgeon" working for United Nations in Syria and was a widower with a daughter in a Florida boarding school. It appears this is some sort of racket and may be hard for the law to catch with him. Cedric looked to be about 50-55 with a gray goatee type beard. They sometimes steal other's identity, though

I have been talking to a guy who also said the sweetest of things. Even got me to send some him some naughty pictures that he is now blackmailing on saying he will post them on Facebook and send to all my family and friends through the messager also said he tried hacking my work email to send pictures to all my work contacts. He wants $900 and he will delete all my pictures and never contact me again. I'm not sure what to do or where to go about this. He is also saying he will send pictures to my son's school.

I had the same thing happen to me they try to blackmail me too they said they post my picture online it be three months then having done nothing yet they wanted 10,000 dollars I got them block I think was trying to scare me

Hey I’m sorry about that, but you don’t need to be confused because first of all he won’t do it, and I can give you 3 reasons why he can’t,(1) he knows that’s a waste of time to him if he wants to do that and it will cause him problem (2) he is tricking you to believe he has information about you (3) he knows he can be trace if he ever does that and it goes viral or escalate so for that reason he wouldn’t do it, just tell him with a capital letter word GO AHEAD AND DO IT, and see if he will not block and delete you

I needed to read your message....I got scammed big time by a guy I am positive is a Nigerian scammer....as in, I even received a phone call from Nigeria, when I guess they forgot to spoof the number. I had cut off all contact on hangouts and email, but yesterday I got a phone call and then text messages from a number in Illinois. I didn’t answer....and then today I got more texts, listing names of people related to me. He has s pic of me he screenshot. I’m freaking that he might do something with it, but have not replied to anything. What are the odds of him actually doing anything???

There are a number of websites that if you give the scammer enough info, he/she can figure out who you are and these sites will have the names of relatives, your address, cars you have purchased and other information on it. You have to be careful about the info you provide. I know it’s hard and sometimes I have made mistakes.

Hi! I'm curious what name he used. I think I'm being scammed by supposedly a Sgt. in the Army, widowed, Jason White, who is stationed in the Middle East for a few more months. I setup a separate email acct. for this (dating stuff) thinking it's safer (is it?) and have connected some with him via email. I did send a couple pics. Next he wanted to connect better via hookups but won't give me time to connect..just sends a little msg here and there, doesn't respond to my questions...things go blank, which I understand appears to be a scammer. Also, one of his responses included the word "omoge" and I asked him what that was. No response. I googled it and it sounds like it is a term from Nigeria. I don't think I've given any info that he could use, but am concerned about identity theft, etc. Help in knowing what to do/look for and how to find a genuine person!!!

My uy is calling himself Jack Drowe. I think I am being scammed. My heart is broken.

I think I am being scammed by the same guy. His name is Jack Drowe also.

My heart is broken also

Hello ladies,we all want to meet someone nice and fall in love ,but how stupid we can be to send information,and most likely money to a person you just meet,wake up this all scams,be smart report them and don’t give out info

Diannese I get that 100%. The heartbreak of finding out someone you liked is a scammer is really hard. These people are gross and will get their karma. I told the FBI about one.

I'll do you all one better! Not only did I get scammed, I got scammed for three years! I met a guy on MeetMe, he was a "Captain" in the Army and was in Afghanistan. He didn't immediately ask me for money. One day, he came on and was in "so much trouble." He had "lost his weapon." He told me he'd be jailed and arrested and that his "Commander" had let soldiers die in jail over there. Suffice to say I got scammed and he even told me that if his "Commander" did not receive the funds that I would be taken to Afghanistan and turned over to the Afghanee men. His "Commander" told me that he had a woman and her family taken over there.
He was extremely convincing. Of course, his "bank account was frozen and he could not access his funds and the payment for this "gun" could not be taken out of his pay." Of course, he was gonna come home. He never came home. In the meantime, I am scared, worried, can't pay all of my bills. I never told anyone, family or friends about this "relationship." Deep down I knew what they would say. A good rule of thumb is if you can't tell your family about someone you're with, there's a BIG problem. It took me a long time to wake up. I decided I was done being in this prison and I freed myself. I cut off ALL contact and I mean ALL. They have been relentlessly calling me and emailing me. It's funny how he couldn't use the phone before but now it's all "they" are doing. I am not acknowledging or responding to any messages. I know it will eventually stop. Last night, I got threatened about a picture I sent, but I am in serious doubt anything will come of that (and trust me, no one wants to see it, lol).
I feel a great weight lifted off of me. I intend to report this. I am not scared. I don't really understand why they are even bothering me. It's not like there aren't 20 more women that this man "loves." I feel like I've just busted out of prison. It will be a very long time before I'll be able to trust anyone again. I am not interested in online dating or any kind of communication apps.
I hope I can help someone by sharing all this and the following:
1. If you are on a message board, FB, whatever and you are messaged by a guy that says he's in the military, RUN! DO NOT message back, do not communicate at all. BLOCK THAT PERSON!
2. DO NOT EVER SEND MONEY, PICS, or VIDEOS to this person.
3. Do not accept cashier's checks or any checks to deposit into your bank account. They like to have money sent to you for you to deposit into your account then they want you to wire, WU, or MG the money to their "agent."
4. These "agents" are the ones getting the money and likely running the scam.
5. You will NEVER and I mean NEVER speak to a true military Commander or General. First, they don't have time and two, they don't care about you or who you are.
6. No one can come get you and take you out of the country. I think about this one now and I just laught. It sounded very convincing at the time.
7. Real soldiers PAY FOR NOTHING, and trust me, if they do, CIVILIANS DO NOT PAY FOR IT.
8. The loss of a military weapon is a BIG DEAL and money doesn't fix that issue.
9. HE is never coming here. He will never come home to you. As a matter of fact, one scam is that the solider is going on leave. Then you get an email saying he has been "detained" for trying to get on a flight with his own weapon (military is allowed to fly with their own weapon).
10. Ask yourself why you have to PAY to be in a relationship? And moreso, how does this soldier have all this time to talk to you?

This is my story. I'm embarrassed that it happened. But it does happen to a lot of people, in every economic situation, culture, men and women. It's not just military romance scams, it's all kinds. Depending on the situation, whether out of loneliness, mourning, or other vulnerability you weren't paying attention. The important thing is to pay attention, and if you are caught up in it, release yourself. Don't allow yourself to be used and abused anymore.

I hope this helps someone.

I have been scanned royalty for about a month. The first guy named Dennis Freeman was from Beverly Hills but in Turkey doing oil drilling. The Turkish government needed him to pay $30,000 in taxes and he wanted me to access his online banking information, which I refused to do. Then he asked me for the money. Ok, stopped talking to him.
Then came James Luck, 4 star in the army. Many videos and signs with I love you, Janet. Fell for him hard. He started to ask for STEAM cards which I had no idea what they were. Walmart told me it was as scam and only would sell me $40 then I went to Target and got another $150. He wanted originally $300. Still asking for them or a credit card so he can "add" money to my account.
At the another time, a Turkish neurosurgeon. I asked for a picture (selfie) he asked who I was talking to. He tried to get in to my Spectrum account to order Iphone ipods, , IPads., for his son and himself. Son was sending me messages oh "WhatsApp " telling me how happy good dad was and that he loved me and wanted to call need "mummy"....omg to use your children.
The last guy manipulated me in giving him my address and having a check for $585,000 sent to my house. He has my address!! OMG!!! Was talking about Turkish government waving taxes due $196,000. He said he had $42.100 with him and could I help him please... you know how much I love you..ya da ya da ya da!!!! I said NO... he called me screaming on the phone and saying gore could you chance like this!! Blaming me for everything!!!
I asked for an address to send back the check. I insisted on certified, registered letter. He didn't want to do that!! I insisted and got it mailed this morning. I have reported this!!
Yes, I'm scared as he knows my address!! But hopefully he won't bother me anymore!! I'm keeping good information online right now as proof in case anything comes of this.
Please ladies, don't be conned!! Be smart!! We shouldn't ever think were desperate!!

Any bodyknowakel..I didn't catch his name?

Please be aware that a scammer who recently used the name of Scott James Moreau on Facebook and Google hangouts is on several scammer lists on the internet using the same photos. He says his picture was stolen and he is a victim but that’s not true. He does use different names but he is the person in the photos. He speaks highly of his moral character and frequently quotes religious texts. He targets elderly women and soon convinces them he is in love with them and will marry them. He asks for iTunes cars, for smart phones and to create a banking account in the victims names. He encourages the women to discuss private matters about themselves. He speaks with very broken English and said he is from France but doesn’t know French when it is spoken to him.He appears to have been scamming for over five years and is quite practiced in how to get his victims to believe him.

I too have been scammed I think by the same guy. Says he is French. Supposedly went to Turkey to work on Government contract. Is owed huge sum of money but they will not pay him until he pays the taxes on it first. This guy is quite good. Uses God as bait to get you to send money to him so he can eat as he has no money! I pray they catch him so he cannot take advantage of anyone else!

Yes, says he works overseas. Needs to get money to pay parcel. Needed to get iTunes. Romance, sends. Romantic stuff.

When people ask for iTunes cards its a scammer .if he will show himself and said he can't make it where you live its a scammer. Tell you him and his kids mother is not together but you he a lady in the background he say it his house keeper it might be his girlfriend or wife. Its a scam he can never facetime you he is a scammer

Kathryn I believe this is the same guy who has been communicating with me. He is on a project in Turkey and an engineer. Short money to get home. As soon as he get the remaining 10,000 he will come back to the states. Wants to marry me. Asked for money to get bitcoin, then asked if I could open new account because his bank is frozen because hacked, then asked if I could wire some money to help with the 10,000 owed so he can finally come home and marry me. Said he has a son and mom dying. He said he could not webcam or Skype because he could not from Turkey. Cancelled flying to see me 3 times because of this project and the money he has to come up with. The photo looks young but his voice sounds like an older man in his 60's. Says he is French but sounds like he is Mexican.

I met a man he says he is 54 engineer for Ships has a son is widowed. he was in Germany wanted $$ , then in Mexico got caught smuggling drugs lmao and is still talking to me from google hangouts. Always asks for the money in bitcoin!
I have given this man so much money very good looking man with grey hair brown eyes. No more how do I report this man?!

Yes I have been conned by a gentleman stating he is on oil rig , wants to marry me, wife and son in car crash and killed has a 12 year old daughter elizabeth but cannot leave as bank account frozen, wants me to pay to get him off the oil rig....calls himself Dr Chris Evans...real name José carlos

I found a woman named Shelley no last name tried to search her online by her cell phone number she lives in New York but has a California cell number she did ask for my address said she wanted to send me a ring I told her I wanted nothing from her she does know my birth date also and I told her I wanted nothing to be sent to me and so far so good but the other night she said she was sick and needed rest and I haven't heard from her since she said she had a friend taking care of her I just find it different she says she lives me and wants to be with me but I can't get her to talk to me on the phone but she says she wants to hear my voice I just find the whole thing strange I know she could forward my mail as she knows the address but there is nothing that comes to my mail box such as bank statements and I just paid my only credit card bill that is paid off every month I just find this strange. I did report her on the dating site as a scammer but if she isn't a scammer then she doesn't need to go on the site anymore anyway if she has really found me.

He is a scammer. Some of them won’t want to do voice cos or video call cos they are not real.

Hi, how did you get his real name?
I have the same scenario, he’s working in thr North Sea oil rigs and his crane is broken down.
Calls himself Mack Jarden.

I WAS SCAMMED BY SOMEONE CLAIMING TO BE IRISH, WITH A BROGUE NO LESS!! HE WAS HANDSOME AND CHARMING, AT LEAST THE PICTURE OF HIM AND HIS MANNER WAS ENOUGH TO TOTALLY DERAIL ME. I BELIEVED HIM FOR A LONG TIME BUT EVENTUALLY CAME TO MY SENSES. HOW DO WE GET OUR MONEY BACK AND REPORT THIS TO AN AGENCY WITH TEETH!?!??

Hi I wonder if it’s the same guy I’m talking to. He claims to be a pilot and is bald? Also claims to be Irish and very charming with an accent and very muscular

Was his name Mac (Malachi) Parker?

I’m dealing with a similar scammer. Says he’s on an oil rig and his drill needs repair to a tune of 47,000. Says his name is Billy Bryan.

Mine is on oil rig in canada, and asks me to call and pretend to be his wife to get his original contract brought to rig so he can finish the job. So he can come back to California. Kelvin Lincoln!

OIL RIG ENGINEER IN GULF BEWARE!!!
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN
WILLIARD ANTHONY CONRAY?
To year weather were with twelve-year-old daughter very well educated he claims to be European from Poland Plays very romantic and says ride away starts To talk about being in love Is in a 5 month project in the Gulf of Mexico but in 2 weeks he will be ready to come back to California his parents are from Europe and CaliforniaThey passed away already Tells you a very romantic story about his parents Hes from Holand his daughters from England he put his daughter on thus another phone from California to talk to you She breaks your heart telling you their Herb father so happy and thank you for making her father happy Very soon he tells you us hes short of money to come back to California he made $7500 And ask you to help him he will pay you back as soon a Goes to land Please don't fall for this scammers if they ask you for money block them right away get a have to fight with them just block them and be more cautious the next timeDo not give them any money this guy said he was from Bellaire California and there he was ready for a serious relationship Do not fall for this stupid stories you are smarter than them They tell you to deposit money to Someone else's account you tell them I cannot deposit money unless it's your account and they will not have a bank account on their name so they will tell you to deposit on someone else's account don't do it BE AWARE!!!

I think this fuy may be the same guy Ive been talking to said hes a Petroleuom Engineer on a rid widower has a son who he has supposedly let me talk to on hangouts he says his name is Diego Luna he needed money to get from the rig and a ticket from Rome to the US becauase hes having problems with his account and now he is supposedly been beat up theres a picture of him beatup anyways saying he was robbed they took his briefcase and is in the hospital.

Same guy name Pic Decour. Widower of four years. Has 16 year old son in a boarding school. Needed money to get off ship arrived in Maryland hit by cab on way to airport in coma then in hospital 4 months. Needed money for treatment of legs. Got out needed flight money to Toronto. Stayed in hotel then needed money to pay hotel. Today everything ended when I refused to help him further. Lost thousands He wanted to marry me pay off all debts I fell into helping him. Today he said he would not pay back any of the money and wouldnt be talking to me anymore. Always asking for large amounts of cash and iTunes, steam and amazon cards

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