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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

Has anyone encountered a. Female claims to be from france and 33 by name marchal le roux

I was contacted months ago by a Thomas through instagram. Yes i knew he was lying to me, but i was so desperate for attention i didn't care.

Yes i sent him itunes cards. Even bought him things and had them shipped to his "coworker". I didn't care. I felt the attention was worth it. But now things have changed.

He doesn't want anything else. He says he loves me and wants to "quit" his job. He wants to start over somewhere with me. Is it possible for a scammer to change?

I was recently contacted by a man on facebook about a money claim..His name is Carl Leon rotie. I just want to know if he is real and has anyone been contacted by him,and has any money been recieved in reference to the claim.

Do not send money to anyone online without having at least, a video conversation with the person... I feel so sorry for you lovely women being a victim to online dating scams. The identity fraud cases these days are pronounced

Even you have a video chat with that person... do not send any money to people you met online.

I have experienced a year of aa possible military scam romance this MST SGT FRANKLIN ALEXANDER B. STONOM ALIAS JERRY B STONOM ARMY HAS ANYONE ELSE BEEN EFFECTED BY THIS BLACK MALE VERY ATTRACTIVE IN TEXAS AT ARMORY

I have been talking to this guy named richard Pablo he is in kabul a widower with a 16year old daughter recently asked me to email his general so that he can leave and be with me the general emailed me back saying i needed to show him my identification to verify who i am for security reasons is it a a scam

That sounds like a scam. A real US soldier does not need someone to ask his general if he can go on leave. If you show someone your personal information, they can use it for identity theft. They can make new identity documents, or borrow money in your name.

Definitely a scam! The military doesn't need your identification for any reason. This is someone trying to scam you and possibly steal your identity. Don't send them anything!!! This isn't how the military does things.

Been talking to a scammer goes by the name Jason Raymond.Smooth talking calling me honey baby sweetheart etc and already saying we are one family.Has twin boys living in USA with a nanny now relocating to U.K.Says he is a contract worker on an oil rig North sea Scotland.Recently his machine broke down and this has delayed his coming home as it needs to be repaire.I saw red flags when he asked me to be his next ok kin in case something happens to him.He was not happy when I refused to sign the form. His colleague called me to convince that's when I blocked him.Does anyone know this man?

I have been talking to a guy who befriended me from social media site, his name was “James Alberto”, he messaged me at a time were i was perticulay going through a hard time and so I thought why not chat it can’t hurt! And he was very handsome too. He told me he was a surgeon (even whent in to great deal about his job) based in Afghanistan working with military and would be returning, to Europe in January, all was good didn’t ask for money or anything and was very interested in me asking about my life etc, this whent on for months and I really didn’t have a reason to be suspicious,
He told me his only son was in boarding school in Canada and the mum had died a few years ago. Though things started to get a bit weard as all of a sudden his son was needing money for food etc all the time and apparently he couldn’t help him as didn’t have access to money were he was based! Immediately my mind started going thinking this is a weard situation, so I did some research and it did start to sound like a scam, so I cane straight out with it and asked either we video chat and I see you clearly or the conversation will stop and I also made it clear there would be no money sent, with that he messaged immediately wanting to video call so at this point I’m very happy thinking I’m wrong if I see his face this has to be real, and I did it was him or so I thought, it sounds crazy but he was either a twin if the pics he was using or Im blind I couldn’t believe it I was so happy! After a while I came across the real man from pics and he was based here in Europe and a different name he was a surgeon tho, it was not him?! Then t confronted him and let him have it so along cake the threats to burn my house down hurt my son etc it was awful, I deleted him of everything and reported him.
After all this I am feeling very emotional and almost heartbroken which I no sounds completely crazy! I feel like such a fool and after six months I even started imagining a future with this person it’s horrible these people are just pure scum! (Sorry for the essay)

I have a friend going through the same thing! he is an engineer, wife died in car accident, has 16 yr old daughter she has sent him money and iTunes cards he always has a problem with getting money he got robbed in the uk cant get home,but loves her wants to marry her all the sweet talk. he did come to meet her once but had to get back to south DAKOTA daughter was sick.but always saying he's coming she wont believe its a scam, Because she did meet him once now he is in london again! asking for money to pay taxes on he's paycheck . I don't know what else to do but I did send some of these comments to show her there almost all the same.

I met a guy from christiancafe and he’s currently stuck in South Africa for two weeks due to his bank account and asked for $400. After one month, we fell in love and devoted but after one month, he asked and argued with me about trust issues. He had Facebook but stopped using. I’ve checked ever websites and background checks. Nothing on him there.

A man took me for 700.00and try to get 800/00but I refuse now I don't hear from him .its my own dam fault for sending 700..it want happen again

I am a victim of romance scam. I met him on Farmers Only.com. His name is Arnold Hilderbrand. Supposedly born in Netherlands, moved to England with his mother at age 16. Graduated from college in Liverpool, England, and attended MIT for civil engineering degree. Worked at British Petroleum for 19 years. Lost his wife to ovarian cancer 3 years ago. All these things resonated with me as a widow of a geologist in the oil industry. How did he know that? I did not put that on the social media site. He was based in Toronto working in the United Arab Emerites. He romanced me for 4 weeks and supposedly had an accident on the job site and asked for money to help him continue the project so he could home to meet me. I fell for it and sent a significant amount of money. Then he asked for $2000 to set up a bank account in Abu Dhabi to deposit his pay from UAE to a bank there so it could be transferred to his bank in Toronto. The last I spoke with him, he said he had set up the bank account and was headed to travel agent to set up his flight home to see me. That was last Wednesday night. I have not heard from him or been able to reach him since. When I started looking into his background (as I should have done in the first place) he does not exist. I feel like an idiot. I understand that I can put his photo (he sent me several over the 5 weeks), but don't know where or how to do that? Can someone answer this?

I have been emailing a Arnold Ruud Hilderbrand that fits most of your description. Born in Netherlands, moved to England, is civil engineer right now on a job in Abu Dhabi, or just outside of that. Wife died, no children. So far hasn't asked for anything. Suppose to be coming home to Rancho Santa Fe in a few weeks but will probably (if this is all true - ha!) need to be quarantined. Writes beautiful romantic emails . wish I knew how to put his picture on to see if this is the same guy. If you or anyone responds to this I'd love to chat. He has called several times. Lovely accent. I hope it's not true!!

has anyone had a David Patrick I have been made a fool of fell for the waffle and now I need help

Arnold Hilderbrand contacted me on Zoosk with the same story as above. I knew he was a scammer the instant he removed his profile from Zoosk. He has not asked me for money yet. I have blocked him but he keeps messaging me and I'm ignoring him. I'm tempted to send him a message that I need money to see what he does but not going to.

I was recently blocked by an online man who befriended me on facebook. Caused me to fall for him then came up with an emergency where he was unable to access his bank account. He tried and tried to convince me to try and get money for him when he finally realized he wasn't going to get anything from me he blocked me. I'm heart broken but happy i never gave in and sent him any money. He went by the name carlos joe ron

Do you have a picture of this person I know someone who is going through a similar thing and being told this and she has actually accessed his bank for him?

Antonio from words with friends is a total fake. It wasn’t long after we started texting that I got suspicious. So I figured why not play along. After a few months he sent a picture of a very real looking document about selling barrels of oil. That’s what business he was in. Unfortunately for him I did research and found that the guy that “signed” the document had worked for that company (Shell) but had resigned 12 years ago. Then there was 100.000 and not 100,000 plus numerous grammatical errors. But again I played along. About 6 months total we had been talking either in words with friends or texting. Then he had to take a trip to the UK. While there he had business to take care of. After 10 days I asked if he was on his way back because we were “supposed” to meet soon. He came up with the story that he couldn’t get his checks cashed and didn’t trust western union because he had used them before and transactions got lost or stolen and could I wire him $600 because his daughter back in the was about to be kicked out of her apartment. She was under 20 years old and about ready to graduate from medical school. I stopped talking at that point. It took me a day to write a nice reply to him and I started off with the phony document and it went from there. Needless to say I never heard from him again but he’s still on words with friends so watch out for him.

I'm glad you knew it was a scam. I laughed when I saw he told you his daughter graduated medical school at the age of 20. This is a lie in itself. It takes four years of college before you can even apply to medical school, and medical school takes another 4 years, so unless she started college at the age of 12, there is NO WAY she's graduating med school at 20.

Beware of Lawrence W Bill. He has the same scam. Wife died, raised his son and daughter "all by myself" - daughter needs a kidney transplant...blah, blah, blah.

I got scammed out of $5906.00 claiming to be a Dr. In Syria scheduled to be coming to the States this month. We talked on the phone one time, never seen his picture, because he said he cannot show his picture, and make calls. Claiming he has a daughter in boarden school. He goes by Mark Histerman , I hired PI and she has tracked him in Africa. He is nigerian 26 years old goes by Alias Black Stone he has a criminal record. Now he calls me idiot, fool, full, stupid, wicked woman, because I would ot send anymore money. He even calls me a liar. He wanted to get married to me the end of this month. He is the liar and scammer. There is a group of them, I am probably talking to more than one at a time.

I just got scammed by a man on Instagram named dwightbrown6996. His profile is gone now but I have lots of pics. He only got 2 Itunes cards totaling $90 but was asking me for money as he was overseas working and magically lost his ID and credit cards. He says he lives in NYC (first in an apartment then changed it to hotel) and works for JFK as an aircraft maintenance engineer and is set to retire at the age of 42 (so he says) when he returns from overseas. Both parents are deceased but left him lots of money! Anyone else been scammed by him?

Guy called himself Lucas Gonzalez, SSgt in the Marines, deployed to the Ukraine. Both parents dead, Uncle had surgery and can't talk. Always called me his Starshine. When we 1st started talking.. I asked his full name- Lucas Gonzalez Ignacio.. 2 months I ask him the same question.- Lucas Brian Gonzalez. Umm did you forget your name? Red flags.. I started my investigation of this man 1 month into our 3 month relationship.. all of his pictures were never found on Google search because if they are edited in anyway, they won't register.I would spend almost every hour of every day searching for something I knew I would find. While texting w him one day, I get a message on FB by a man named Scott Huttingson. General in the Army after only 7 yrs in. Daughter in boarding school in FL.. Denmisa.. not even a name used in the USA.. red flag.. used the same wording this SSgt Gonzalez did so I already knew and told him I knew.. he promptly blocked me. All my investigating paid off 2 months later when I stumbled on the FB profile of the guy attached to the pictures this scammer used. When I say it was my life's mission for 2 months to expose this coward..it was all I could concentrate on. So it took me an HR or so to stop laughing because I did actually find the real SSgt Gonzalez, yes same last name so I have to wonder if he was involved to in some way. The real is married w 2 kids. Beautiful family. But I texted the fake w pictures of the real and told him I was going to the police. He immediately deactivated his Google voice #.. bandwith.com, they provide virtual burner numbers. They also use Magic Jack or similar apps. I have reported Mr. Lucas the fake to the be FBI Cyper Complaints and have also alerted Bandwith.com, century Link and Google voice. It's time to put an end to their malicious attempts to steal from us.

Hello Shawn, my friend had been Chatting with a profile Named Airnas Biumis. His profile is on FB and is active. I have found several other profiles using the same picture, but under different names. These are the
Names, Barry, Samson, Airnas, there are a total of 6 profiles. Most have the same last name, Gonzales. Would please take a look these profiles. I would like to know if you have encounter this profile pic before. I you have encounter these before, I would like to hear from you.

Has anyone been contacted by Brian Andreas Lukas architect 60 years old from Texas? Is in Turkey on a job but needs money to complete. Divorced 5 years no siblings or children. Deceased parents.

Ohhhh boyyyy. This is the exact “person”/story my girlfriend has been communicating with... except he is in the US currently. No request for money... yet. Please keep me posted

Are you referring to Brian Andreas Lukas that your girlfriend is communicating with?

Hey sorry to bother you. But I feel like this is the same man that is trying to scam my mother as well. I was wondering if you could email me and I can send you the pictures of the man and see if it's the same guy.

Whitwhit and Dee64 please go back about 2 pages on here (june 21+/_) and see the report by gameover007 and myself about this same person. DO NOT ENTERTAIN HIM. Report him on all sites that you can. Where did you meet him? I met on OK Cupid, they have verified that he was impersonating somebody and was removed.

Dee64, yes he has been scamming me for the last 6 months taken money off me, i had him checked out and he has been found to be a scammer, send me loads of pictures, sent a contract etc. DO NOT SEND HIM MONEY. he has been on OK cupid, catfish and other sites, please report him on any site possible.

Thanks done in 22, but to late he already cleaned her out.

Dee64, if you go back on this feed you will see i reported this person back in June 2018, this man has been doing this since 2016. He needs to be stopped. He said he was from Texas, then San fransisco and rushed off to Turkey to renovate a hotel, sends a "contract" , call the number on the contract, they tell you Turkey is full of scammers, do not send him any money . hope this helps. says he is stuck and needs money.. he is a low life.

hi. has any of u come across a man called Matt Spencer? he said he is Canadian construction engineer. his father is dead due to smoking, mother is very old and taken care by nanny in Poland. he said he's half Canadian, half Polish. he has not asked for money but he has disappeared after i asked him many times about his location, he didn't even pick up my calls. he has picture wearing white shirt smiling with dimples, wide forehead, tanned skin.

I believe I met the same guy as you who also named Matt Spencer who has similar look as you described but he told me his photo was just taken early this year and he is a American. His father is polish american and his mother is Singapore american. both of them have died years ago and he lost his wife to cancer. Really nice good looking guy but believe the pictures were stolen.

I was sent a email concerning they send me a form to fill out plus send 7,500 . I was told they send me Documents once this is paid. It's a inheritance which is rightfully mine. What I ask they only sent me a email regarding but no proof, other then a person name and email stating nothing else

Oh I met the one Frenchmen yes he’s a faker too.. lost his wife and son in car accident yes he love me too. In a few days but he found me on Words with Friends oh snd Kevin too the Irish man

i hear these stories way too much! i was in contact with a man on facebook who went by the name jones cooper, who claimed he was in the US military.come to find out this mans pictures are on several profiles. immediately red flags went up. after s few days of chatting, he said he needed credit card info or a bank account. i knew right away he was no good. men and ladies, you have to be careful now-a-days.

Desperate for help!!! All these are so familiar!! My mother is living. With me over a former catfishing scam, now she’s involved again by the name of a man called “Ruppe” and she won’t believe me that this is another scam. She’s giving him amazon, iTunes, wiring him money to he bank of Nigeria and it’s going to CA and being received by a woman of the name Cynthia Punogin who lives in Palmdale CA. I have confronted her and told her all the red flags. He’s claiming to be military and deployed for many years, injured and stitched up. Captured by terrorists. Met on tinder now on what’s app. Impossible!! Every single red flag is there. Horrible English and he copies and pastes poems too. I have done so much research on him and she even believes they’re married. HWP I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO. She is brainwashed and we all fear for our safety at this point since he has pics of us and my grandchildren. Also our home address. I need guidance and where to go with all the acct numbers I have now and his what’s app number too!!!

If you think someone wired money to a scammer, you can call the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 or the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.  Some local police and sheriff's offices have  officers or trained volunteers who talk with people about scams. You could call your local law enforcement agency and ask if there's someone who could visit or talk with your mom about her experience.

Please let your mother know that if she receives stolen money from a scammer and then transfers it to another account, or wires it to someone, her name is on the bank account and on the money transfer forms. If she is involved with this scheme, she could lose money and personal information. She could get into legal trouble. Her bank might close her account.

I too have been messaging Joey Allan. Nice pics. Said he was a captain in the military stationed in Syria. Widowed and had not been home in 15 months. Sounded really said and burnt out. Within in a day he was madly in love. On the second day wanted to come meet me in person but needed money to buy a pane ticket.With my grandson in the Army and Dad serving 25 years, I know a little about how the military works. They don't keep you overseas without a break and they don't ask you to buy your own ticket.
Ladies I knew it was a scam but played long for a few days to see if I could catch something to call him out on.Did on a few things Kept him busy until facebook shut him down. Now I am sweeping my computer for viruses to be safe.

Ladies, none falls in love on line in 2 days. Don't fall for it. And if they ask for money report it.

This man told me I am a goddess and he is a millionaire and will pay all my bills but he's on a ship all I have to do is get him a vacation leave he lost his wife and son in boarding school. His name is braylan willex.how do I find out its a fake. He said he work for the un

It's a scam! He's a millionaire but he needs your money?! Please !! Any millionaire is going to have access to their money at all times, even from a ship. Has he heard of the age of technology or does he just think you're that stupid? Never give money to a man, especially one you've never met in person. Even then, just go by the rule to never give money to a man. The story is classic, wife is dead, kid in boarding school, yada yada yada. The stories are all the same! Plus, Braytan Willex? Really? Even the name is quite obviously made up. My friend was taken to the tune of $60,000 by man she actually met and lived with who was promising the same thing, to pay all her bills and she'd never have to work again. They play on your emotions and make empty promises to get what they can out of you. Tell him you aren't sending him money ever and see how quickly he disappears.

Be careful of scammers who say they work in the oil rig and claims they are not allowed to have cell phones in their rooms. That is not true. If you tell them you want to skype or meet on webcam, they come up with excuses that they're not allowed to have cell phones on the rig. That is not true. They'll say they are engineers but are so bad in english grammar and spelling. They say they are in the ship but you can hear roosters crowing on the background. They profess love only after one week. And there are two ways that they will divest you of your money: First is to wire some money, second, they'll ask you to receive a bag or a package and then a company will ask you to pay for taxes or blackmail that the bag contains cash and you are charged with money laundering so you have to pay a lot of money. DO NOT EVER GIVE MONEY TO A PERSON YOU'VE NEVER MET. DO NOT RECEIVE ANY PACKAGE OR BAG FROM A PERSON YOU'VE NEVER MET. This scammer said he would send his bag first before he goes to the country, who does that? When you travel, you travel with your bag with you. Be careful of the copy-paste love messages on Google. If you go online dating, make sure you see them on webcam, and never, ever give money.

Father in-law is being scammed by a woman who says her name is Donna Buchnan. He was already scammed once. He is being told that "Donna" works as a consultant in a diamond mine in South Africa. Just as she is about to board the plane to come back to Arizona she collapses and now is in the hospital. How does he know..because get this a doctor sends him text message because he found his name in a book on her. How do you convince someone like this to believe you. This is the second time he has gotten scammed the first time they got 10k from him. He is in his 70's and a lonely widow. I notice most notices on here are men scamming women. Any men being scammed by "women" stories similar to this?

i just got scammed, loves me but needs 2,000.00 to fly to see me from Russia to Canada

I'm talking to one right now on messenger on purpose because my husband's mother ended up giving in to one of these sorry piece of crap scammers last month and lost all of her money! The scammer had her let him transfer a $10,000 amount to her bank account and then she had to send it back to him and it withdrew her account negative $9,000 is she only had $1,000 in the account! And she still talking to the guy! The guy I'm talking to on messenger I know he's a scammer I'm married and have no reason to talk to guys on social media but I wanted to talk to this guy and just see what kind of format they use. He's currently posing as Lieutenant General Franklin Benjamin Hodges.

Well ladies I’m one of the suckers! My guy has been talking to me for 3 months. He is from Oakland, CA, but he has been in Istanbul on an oil rig for over a month. We have all of the sweet romantic conversations as the rest of you. He friend requested me on Messenger and why I accepted I will never know. His name is Jimmie Walter. He is getting a divorce and he has a 14 year daughter. He asked for a IPhone X after I told him I wanted to get him something for his birthday. I never sent it because I fell ill and was unable to do so. He has continued talking to me and now wants to send a package of his to my address. He says he is coming home soon and wants to meet me in CA. I a pretty intelligent woman and he almost convinced he is real. He sent a passport and a drivers license with the number covered. I have done extensive searches and have not found him in the US. I have figured out that he is a scammer and I want all you ladies out there to wise up like I have. If the guy is a contractor, in the military, has broken language, speaks brogue English, works in another country, and wants to get romantic immediately he is a SCAMMER! We are too smart to be scammed, so block them and delete anything they’ve sent you. Women United.

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