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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

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

Is your face showing in the pictures? If not then don't worry. It's all blackmail though and I'm pretty sure it will never happen. Especially if you're not the only person he is doing this too. If your face IS showing, alert your son's school and let them know you got blackmailed and they photoshopped your face onto the body. That way they will not be surprised if something comes through.

I had a very similar experience as you have had. The person said he’s a marine and his wife died and he has a 5 yr old daughter that lives in Huston Texas where he is supposedly from. This person immediately said he’s in love, he said I put a spell on him. He kept asking me to pick up steam wallet cards in the amount of $200 I told him I don’t have any money then $50 I tried to stop talking to him and he kept calling me and “his friend” tried to friend me to tell me this guy really is missing me. I realized that 2 different people were pretending to be one. Both from Nigeria, I believe it’s a business there where they are targeting a lot of people. They are still harassing me. I’ve had to delete my social media, change my phone number. They never got a dime out of me.

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.

This sound like the same man I'm talking to now. The only thing is he has a son,Kevin,who lives with his nanny.They are in Washington D.C. He work for an oil share company in Scotland.He is a very sweet talker, made me fall in love with him. These only I have one big problem. I'm married. Yes I know that's wrong even if I'm in a abusive marriage. But he really helps me talking with me when I need to talk about my problems. Then he started asking for my help, needing $100 itune cards then Amazons cards .Telling me I'll send it back to you the next day. Then the next day,he would tell me "I have a little problem." I have been dumb enough to send $900 to him and all times "I have a little problem." Now he wants to send me money to get out of my marriage but he has to have $700 to send to his company to have them to release his money to send to me. Now I'm out $900 which $300 was my heart medicine money. Every time I ask for it "I have a problem. Always a problem. He always make it my fault that I don't have the money to send him. I try not to talk to him but I have that man under my skin and just can't stop. Old and Dumd.

Please in the name of God, this person is fake. Do not send anymore money please.

I am talking to a guy name Cleve Baez on Instagram from the US military. He said I was beautiful and I should transfer to hang out app. He has a tattoo on his chest and work out video.He said he loves me. He text me very day and say I miss u. He said he is in Nigeria and from the states. After 4 weeks, I ask him to come see me , he said he need 2000$.

I had a sergeant John goodwin and he sounds similar - wife died , son Michael lives with a nanny
Very easy to chat to , loved me after a week
Contracted soldier , stationed in Niger
Keep fit instructor
Has anyone else heard of him
Frozen bank account , needs to get home and wants a plane ticket

The guy you described sounds like the guy I met via tinder a few months ago, who went by the name of Goodwin Williams. I sensed red flags from the beginning. His story was this: resides in San Diego however currently working on a construction contract in Turkey his native country. He has a young son of 3 yrs, who’s mom had cheated on him, and now divorced. He started telling me he was going to buy me a car, wanted to get married, and also wanted to come visit me, and actually stay with me. I told him that won’t be possible as I never met him, and he quickly accused me of being married, and thank goodness the communication ended. Through two weeks of convo he asked how much I made, asked if I knew what bitcoin was, and even explained a situation where he loan someone money, and it was never returned. Well I am well aware that money, or finances is not mentioned in a two week period of getting to know someone. His pace was too fast for me, he expressed loving me, and how he lost his mother at an early age, and was looking for a mother figure, which was disturbing, and overwhelming. I really wish this guy would get caught, as no one deserves to be taken advantage of. Well stay away from that creep. I’ve read the other posts, and it seems to be the same person which is quite disturbing. This guy needs for his games to be ended. The photo he uses is of a man with dark hair, well trimmed beared, with a safisticated look to him, who works out everyday. Stay away from that creep.

Military personnel only fly non commercial, to and from war zones or non commercial ships

do you feel something for him?
do you know him too well that you want him to come over and meet you?
do you trust him ? this are the questions you should be asking yourself my lydia..because i believe they're still good men out there..you just have follow your heart my dear lydia

Lydia , is the workout video is about lifting heavy weight? And wearing a green sweat shirt and black trouser?

I'm currently being scammed by a guy named Williams Smith from Detroit Michican. Claims he is in Thailand working to repair pipes under water . He recently wanted me to contact the United Nations to help him get a vacation I said no he got told me I didn't want to meet him . I said I'm not comitting fraud for him . I'm still texting him just to see how far he will go .

Good thing you didn't allow yourself to fall prey to what he wanted from you. Going to jail/prison is so not worth it for these losers, a real care honest person wouldn't want you to go the extremes for them like a scammer would in order to meet them. United Nations deals with terrorist (I think) not pipe running LOL.
I hope I can meet this loser (scammer) so I can grill him on Detroit Michigan, I am from there LOL.

Mine is Smith Williams?may I see a picture.ty

Mine is Scott Williams anyone know him?

I have a Williams Smith from California messaging me. Says he is working on an oil rig in Finland. I would really like to see a picture. This guy has short dark hair with a beard, super fit.

May I ask you his name please?

Barry Eckenwiller scammed me out of R800,000 using his child to make me feel sorry. Said child was to have urgent heart surgery. Promised to pay back all my money. Then he changed his email and just disappeared. Been trying for 4 years to track him down without any success. Does anybody know this man?

we are the same.. he said that he has a son kevin living with his nanny but they are in U.K. and He is a head of operations and logistics at benzik oil company... he asked me to open a bank account for him. the name that he uses is Dave Forster on Facebook. but we first chat on Words with Fun2...

He claims his name is kayland Berger, goes by Kay Berger, with an email address of bergerkay119 @gmail.com, an text mail phone number of 817-668-8634, on “Hangout” as Kay Berger… I meet him “Plenty of fish”…. This is what he sent via email about himself.. I'm 58 years old but very young at heart and physically. I was born and raised from a Catholic home at Linz.. I was married for 14 years. I'm widowed for 9yrs now looking for that special woman of my dreams to bring back the joy and happiness I have been missing since I lost my late wife (companion). I have one adopted daughter called Adjoa who lives in Austria now with my Aunt, she’s black and in college at the moment, I adopted because my wife couldn't bear kids... I 'm a retired Automotive engineer; I worked specifically on Trains; I'm financially stable and living without stress..

Do you have a picture on this guy?

My guys name was Mark Robinson and he definitely was a sweet talker. He seemed so real but there was still red flags. Especially the thing about falling in love so quick. I figured he was a scammer but he never asked for money and told me he owned a house in San Diego and the one in Germany. He also talked about a huge contract he had with Exxon and how he was going to be making a Huge profit. I Called him out on it because he wouldn’t prove who he was and he did not have a paper trail. He was a older widower and had a very young daughter. Picture of him and his daughter who seem like she was Spanish or mulatto. He also sent pictures Wearing a red diving suit and also a black rubber suit. He worked a crane under the water and he Lied about his faith in God and how he was told he was going to meet me and take care of me. He knew I was a recent widow but I really didn’t want anything serious but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He looked like he was in his 50s or 60s very handsome white guy but I called him out on it and wouldn’t stop. I asked for his ID I asked for a picture I asked for a video. Think he got sick of me bugging him to prove who he was and he sent me a video with him and a few other people men and women holding a gun in his hand in the song was playing bad boys bad boys what u gonna do when they come for u. I stopped all communication.I wish we could put pictures on this site. Is there a place where they don’t charge for reverse lookup?

The man i am talking to is younger 40s young daughters discription similar sandiego new york Texas he claims but grew up in Germany. im a widow also so very cautious. I wish we xould share photos

Got Scammed, youre not alone. I lost more than you did..more more more sent to these criminals. I wanted to shout but realized it wont help. I am highly educated woman but I am trying to move on. Same story as yours. God bless us.

Today, I am writing to say, yes, highly educated means we are just as gullible as others. I am out about 16,000 to a scammer maybe more. Sweet nothings and an occasional online playmate and what a dupe I have been. Yes, Romania, said to be involved in medical... original facebook listed out schools, none of which would confirm his attendance. Name is dubious, cannot pin him to any locale. Cell number untraceable, sends him iTunes cards, the list goes on and my face is permanently red. Slick moves and honeyed words promises of a car(?) marriage, a future complete with adopted kids... slight variation on themes, but sad all the time.

bunny, yes I'm gullible highly educated woman. I gave a lot to these criminals ...more than what you've lost. when all my savings were drained I went to bank loans...huge loans in my hands right now. Nothing came as what promised. What a fool I am...I wanted to shout over mountain tops. God bless us

Thanks17. I have lost a lot of money as well. How did you recover. My situation is fairly new. Having to file bankruptcy as well. It is so devastating

I know how you feel also I’ve been scammed out of a lot of money lost my vehicle and about to lose my house and don’t think I will recover I’m so devistated I cry every day think it’s all over

You are not alone. I took money from my mom thinkinking my man is paying me back. I have spent $56,000 in itune card. He said he could turn into cash for what he needed , to fix his problems b.p said they have no record of my guy he says he does and he claims he is still coming to me. I m not holding my breath

Hi Roxanne,
I went through the same thing . I send more money than you. Now Im filing Bankruptcy. Every morning day and night I cried. Cant let my family knows nothing plus have a sick child and he knows it and it wasnt nothing to scam me. Now Im try to work with the authorities to get him in Africa. It will be over. Just file Bankruptcy its not going to be no where out. They only think about them self only. I knew him from June 2015 and he start the money scamming from April 2016 until July 2018 was the last he got over $7, 000.00 out of my hand . The money he said was to come here instead he took away the money so I curse him out which he decide to pay me back. The last message was a 2 sentence txt from him December 1st 2018 then he block all incoming call. He was living in Cyprus then he move back to Africa and scamming a lot of women in the USA and other countries. He uses a USA phone number.But Im going to bring him down because I have so much info on him he dont know. So try and bring him to justice. Our authorities here working with the EFCC over there. He dont call any more because he was a scammer. So do the right thing. Romance is not easy for us women. If you want you can reply to me and I can help and tell you what to do.

I was scammed by the man I believe who live in Kenya. I had been catfish. During 10 months course of the scam Mar 18- Jan 19, I had wired US 40 k to this con man through the banks in Turkey Plus 20 K through western union in Kenya . Is there any way to track down this con man

You could contact the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 and explained what happened. You could also report this to the banks you used to transfer the money. If you met this person on a dating site or social media site, you could report the person's account to the website administrator.

I was being scammed too. For 13k. What should I do now to get it back? It was so stressful and how idiot i am..

I'm afraid I have no choice but bankruptcy. I never used cards never needed them

Bunny hi... Do you have picturs of this man? Can we some have get in touch? Tjis adoptiv kids made some bells ring here...

Mia. I have almost same story andI have pics also and would love to see if they are same man

I have a very similar story. Can you send me pictures?

Fell in love with him. He said he was an art dealer/ artifacts traveled the world. Sent me pic passport no holigram. Told him I was broke, he called me once sounded like Nigerian accent. Thank God for the Television show "Catfish"

Yes happened to me he used Nicholas chateau as the name on Instagram and said he was serious with me and then he had a robbery in Hong Kong he said and asked me pay for his documents so I did like a fool which resulted in more

This same guy as just asked me for £6000 because he got robbed in Malaysia and needed to pay for his documents to collect his artifacts for his clients

We have the same story. His name is Michael Sanders a pilot from UK, then was robbed in Malaysia and need $4000 to collect the documents needed for his clients. He is so god fearing. This scammers are intelligent individuals. Be very careful guys.

Nicholas Chateau told me the same story except he was in Malaysia and he had been robbed and needed £6000 to get his documents to get his antiques cleared

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