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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.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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.

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.

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 am going through a similar issuer right now. I wanted to ask if anything ever came if the situation? Did you send the minus were the pics ever published?

I am such a fool. I am smart and I know better. I guess I was lonely. This guy named Schounlieni Williams, a "soldier on a peacekeeping mission for th US in Sudan" recently divorced wants to marry me professed all kinds of love and got me for private chats on Hangouts just asked me to purchase an Amazon card for $200 so he can continue to chat because the army is going to cut our chatting off and he is taking great risks. I told him I was going to the walmart today but I knew last night that this was a scam, I am not sending anything, my heart is broken. This scam was very, very elaborate. I cant believe this. I have even spoken to him on Hangouts. Professed to be a christian. I sent him one dirty photo and I am afraid he will blast it. I met him on Facebook via a We Dont Deserve Animals I was following in my feed. I am soooo stupid but now I know I am a professional woman who is lonely. Dont fall for this ladies. It can happen to all of us. It is so easy and they can be so elaborite you eill think it is true.

Don’t worry I’m a smart person as well who knows better and I’ve had someone thevlast month that started to make me believe. It was very elaborate and even though I was skeptical of the random message and the speed at which they seemed to be falling for me I too was so lonely I guess maybe I hoped I was wrong. This wasn’t like other scams, it was weeks before money came up and when I said no they told me not to worry about it and they kept talking to me as if it was fine. This person invested a lot of time into this and is continuing to try and bring up ways to get an iTunes card or wire money to her aunt. I know it’s a scam and I keep asking them for an address to send gifts directly, things I know “she” will never give me because it’s a scam. The thing is I know it’s a scam and I’m not even mad, I’m just sad it’s not real. That’s how lonely it can be at times. I’m not sure if they found me through Facebook. It was a random message through Facebook messenger. That account foes t have a Facebook profile but she’s using the identity and pictures of a real girl on Facebook with an account.

Hi, Keith. Was her name Donna, who's in the service with a sleeve tattoo? Just curious. Story sounds familiar. She's from Louisiana or Missouri. Take your pick. Image search showed she was not who she said she was.

Hi mike. I also met the girl in service w sleeve tattoo.She was stationed at Camp McCain she claimed,then moved home to Pennsylvania.She will never speak on phone or video chat but will invest weeks talking and promising marriage and love. She eventually wants ITunes cards

was she a blonde, was her name jenny, I think my friend is being scammed

Keith it happened to me around the same time frame. Sent a pic of a handsome older.gentlemen who professed his love for me. And how pretty i was. It was elaborate also. But when he asked for money i reported him to the fbi. He contacted me and apoligized but i knew at that point that was a scam as well. I am lonely too so they prey on us single people. Taught me a lesson. I just wish i knew who the handsome man in the pic was

This is me how did I get on here

You really don't want to know who the handsome man in the photos is. I found out and mine was an International Italian model. I looked at his life thru all the women hanging on him for photo shoots and pictures of his current girlfriend and the beautiful clothes and huge bed and breakfast he owned and here I was sending someone money for plane tickets to get out of Africa and money for food. I wrote the real person and he wrote a quick note. Fake Photos/stolen. Sorry" I think I felt better before I knew as this guy would not give me a second look and guessing he was not into women anyway except having to do photo shoots with them???? Be careful what you wish for!!

Was this older man white headed and very handsome. Had picture of him and his dog? One older man hit me up two years ago online and just recently got me up again using a different name. Immediately wants me to add hangouts app. I play stupid to his request, but know what is going on.

I'm going thru this right now with a white guy with a dog licking the of his face eyes ate green and gray

Keith you have to think of it like this - you are a good person and she is not. Block her and save some heartache. There is someone good out there for you don’t be in rush she will come and she will be worth waiting for.

I am going thru this too right now. This is all so familiar. The widowed dad who works outside the states and their child is in a college overseas and they have no other way to get money. No other family or friends. Terrible grammar most of the time and other times perfect, like they copied and pasted something. I wish there was a place you could post their pictures for other people to see.

Jason Allen sought me out. I accepted a friend request on Facebook. Immediately he wanted me to open "Hangouts" and chat there. Supposed to be a surgeon working for the United Nations in Somalia. Loves me, wants to visit me, and even ask me to marry him. Now is asking for money for food. I asked if the UN had emergency fund. No. Am I being scammed?

Don't feel bad, I thought myself of being smart too and pretty intuitive and got fooled also by how elaborated this scams are, I'm really amazed, this site helped me to see that, so I decided to share to help others too. I got contacted in a language exchange site, and the guy ask me also to use hangouts "soldier on a peacekeeping mission for the US in Sudan", named Clark Hartley after getting me in hangouts he deleted the language exchange app. Similar tragic story as the ones here, his wife died in a car accident 3 years ago, has a 6 year old kid, who is taken care by a nanny in Phoenix, dad also died the same year as wife curiously. Said couldn't call just chat since using a military configurated device for signals that only allows him to chat, and that he gets bored and lonely thats why he ask me for steam/ itunes card to download games and listen music, so luckily where I live they dont even sell those, and I told him so, he said if I couldn't get it was ok, but later on kept asking about the cards. Well, I ignored his request and he notice so, one day he asks if I could do something for him, if I went shopping anytime soon if I could make some shopping for him and send it to Sudan, (I'm like what?!) He told me he got supplies there, but he needed some few personal things, I asked to send me the money, list of things and adress and maybe I could DHL it (aint spending no money on a guy I dont even know), he later tells me he has no money with him, just his card but was afraid to do online transactions. I told him to buy his things online and I may have them fwd. Even tells me "so you're suggesting I pay the things with my card" . He ask me if I could help with the shopping, but if I couldnt if was ok, that he would figure it out how I may send him things. Here's where I got really suspicious, search for the pics he sent me and found two on random websites. So he is picking pics from websites, what surprised me was he had a really good english grammar, and really fluid sweet conversation, so girls be really careful, protect your hearts, search on google reverse image, ask for video calls, dont fall for this scam artist.

Do you have picture of him it sound some to me that I’m talk to I got him $50 amazon card so his go online read his email and chat with me and also steam cards too I send the code through Messenger he says that Afghanistan for basic training the back home in Florida soon.. that we will FaceTime his tell me his love me his want be with me for rest my life and his went be get uncle iPhone XR because his uncle car was stolen with phone in so his can’t get whole of his uncle or talk his 6 year son can send picture I’ll give my email address send to me I want see the same guy his say his 39 his parent dies in car accident 25 years. I told him his better be truthful and be real with me

Do u have a photo of this person?

Do NOT send him any money! Even if you did he will still have your pictures and will threaten you again and again. Please contact the FBI help line, easy to do online, and file a report. Don't worry about your pictures being revealed, it is not likely they will post them because their IP Address will be known if they do and if they really do post them it will most likely be on a site that none of your family or friends will ever see. In the future, if you decide to send provocative pictures, omit your face, they only want to see other parts anyway right? You can also notify Facebook who can monitor or cancel his account and access to your friends can be limited as well. Don't panic! The threat to you is not as great as it seems, but the person is a real threat and you should cut all ties to them immediately. Best wishes to you for a happy conclusion.

Lost and confused I’m facing the exact same thing. He gave me 1 hour and he was going to post all the photos. He had multiple names and the amount he wanted from me was $4500.00, every time it was being sent to a different account with a different woman’s name in a different state. So, if he post the photos it’s my fault. I’ve deleted all my social media. Sadl

Im.going through the same thing now and I dont know what to do any suggestions

Were any of the names Carolyn Matott or Alice Eldridge

Hilary- I have been talking to a guy that sente a follow request on Instagram and he started messaging me and ask me to go to Hangout. Our guys stories sound similar. Mine says he is a doctor working for the U.N. in Syria, is a widower with a 15 year old son from Rome but currently living in San Antonio. I knew by looking at his Instagram and seeing over 3,000 women he was following that he was a scammer but I have played along with it. When I realized that he was a scam I did a Google image search of him and saw that his identity belonged to a doctor alright but his name was totally different than the one he gave me. Yesterday he posted several "new" pics of his alter ego and in every one he had a wedding ring on. I ask him how long his wife had been gone and I was told five years, I then ask him why did all the pics show him with a wedding band and he tells me that he "wears it BC it keeps the nurses from fighting" over him! Lol. I've done nothing but play along BC people like this really piss me off! But, I am happily married and would have sent him on his was if he had been legit. He has already told me that he is in love with me and thinks about me all the time! Haha. He too has a goatee type beard that is black with gray in it.

I’m so glad I came across this thread. I’m in the process of being conned by a man that claims he is US Army, working for the United Nations, out in Afghanistan. He said he was cheated on ‘badly’ by his now ex wife. He is now divorced, has zero family and zero emergency contacts oh and zero bank account. He’s not asked me for money yet but has asked for my address so he can apparently have a personal cheque delivered to my house for $450,000 which he says is back pay that he is owed for the past 3 years and does not have a bank account. He said that the cheque would be couriered to my house and though he’s never met me, he would trust me with it, nor would he mind flying to the UK for it.

I am 40, in a relationship and he has contacted me via Facebook. I rarely accept random requests but seeing he was a service man, thought he may have been family that I didn’t know existed as I’ve recently found out I have family over in the US.

The messages mainly comprise of him declaring his undying love for me, thanking God and bad spelling and grammar. I asked many times what rank he is, what his job in the army is and could he video call me to confirm his identity. All he could say was he was a soldier and that due to him being closely monitored by terrorists, all cameras had been disabled. Didn’t even answer me with which rank. I also asked him if he was a United Nations soldier would that not make him a nato soldier, he once again did not answer and that was a wild guess to which I knew any proud soldier would be happy to correct me.
So after a few messages were exchanged I suddenly remembered Facebook voice messaging. I asked him to send me a voice message and promised if he did I’d give him my address. So I am waiting to see what his next excuse is. I mean I knew it was a scam all along but I could not work out how. This guy is a looker, well the photos he is using anyway. In my experience, good looking guys from a different country don’t just befriend you and say you are their soul mate, but if they do then god bless America. He hasn’t asked for money but no doubt that is to come.

I’ve tried to trip him up constantly and he has an answer to pretty much everything. He must have even researched who the forces use as their main courier. If all the microphones have been disabled then I’m going to ask him to write my name on his hand along with the date and take a selfie in the mirror. And considering there are so many women getting scammed, it’s not exactly clear where we can turn for advice. I was actually looking for a number that I could call in the US to ask if it could even be possible that a service man could be without emergency contacts and a bank account.

He’s clearly taken a service mans identity from Facebook because there is more than 1 picture and it makes me a bit sick that it could be a soldier that’s been killed in action. These cowards are from third world countries and don’t even see women as equal, I’ve visited and I know from experience, but they’re making all kinds of money from us. I wonder how many embarrassed women tell anyone that this has happened, because I honestly had not known it was so common until I decided to look online
I really hope this comment helps someone. Almost forgot, the guys name on Facebook is Keith Elvis.

This happened to me for 3 months now. This guy approached me through a text from a social media and I accepted it and then started talking everyday saying sweet things to me and I gave in. He asked me money for $30000. I asked him if he’s going to pay me back and he said yes So I got a loan of 28000 and sent it to him. He kept asking for money because somethings are always coming up and I never thought this was a scam because he was a sweet person. And when I was on a social media looking a pictures and I happened to see the guy that I thought i was talking to all this time. I looked at this guys pages and he is married with a baby who lives in Hong Kong. Then that’s when I confronted this fake guy trying to be this person when he is not him. He told the truth and said yes that’s not me and I’m only after your money and this is when I reallized and I just recently found out that I’ve been scammed. The sad thing is I sent him $31000 through wire transfer. I’m so lost of words right now because now I am left with this huge debt on my hands. I don’t know what to do.

You can report this to the wire transfer company you used. Call the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 or the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

Also, report to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can also report to your state Attorney General, and to the social media site where you found the profile.

I met a guy on facebook.He said his name was Mark Johnson government pilot working for the UK government. He said he was a widower with a daughter Mary that leaved in the UK with a nanny. He told me he had a house in San Antonio Texas, and Apartment in England. He said that he had alot of money & money was not a problem. He would marry me and take care of me. He was a very sweet talker. I made me fall in love with him. He told me he lost his debt card in England & couldn't get it replaced until he got back to the united states when his contract was finished with the government. He asked me if i could buy him an $100.00 itune card. I did. Then he told me the itune card i sent him was used. So i brought him anyone $100.00 itube card. Which was very stupid. The we continued to text on google hangouts. He told me he loved me. And we were soulmates. And he wanted to make a life with me & Mary his daughter. He was a government pilot. He traveled all over Europe he told me. He went to west africa an got an infection which land him in Carolina Medical Center in Poland. He wanted me to moneygram or western union him $700.00 for medicine he need. He said they could only get this medicine in Nigeria. I had to send the moneygram or western union money to doctor in Nigeria. And he would come back to Poland and give him the medicine so he wouldn't die from infection. And once he was well he would come meet me and we would marry. I told him he was a scammer and i blocked him from messaging me.
So please ladies beware of this Scammer very sweet talker & handsome too. If photos where real i do not know.

And ladies there is another one out there named David M Rivas i met him on Instagram. He's a widower marine engineer in California. He has a 17 year old daughter named Bella. She is in boarding school. Another one that wanted to talk on hangouts. He told me he loved me and wanted to make a life with me.
He told me he was at sea. And his bank accounting was frozen. He asked if i could open a bank account for him. So his company can direct deposit money into this account. I told him No i wouldn't open an account for him. I do not know this guy that well. It could have been stolen money going into account that would be in my name not his. I told him to have the company cut him a paper check. And he could cash it when he get back on land. And he started insulting me. So i blocked him.

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