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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 — 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


Does anyone out there know a JoLene Axtell from Ontario, Calif? Mid thirties, attractive etc. Ben communicating with same online and says she is in the oil and gas business. Travels oversees etc for business, etc. Has ask for money but I haven't responded yet, Does anyone know this person or have any insight on whether she is real or not?

Bulldog...there's a Jolene Axtell in Ontario CA ... but she's in her 60s. She may have been the victim of a scam and the scammers are now using her name as a newly created woman (really a man) to scam men. That's how the scammers work. They also use details they obtain from past victims as part of their new persona to scam current/future victims. Sounds more believable that way. Please don't lose your money to scammer gangs.

I met this guy on a dating site, said his name was Steve Bright, Marine Engineer , very good looking, charming & nice british accent. He claimed he lives in Slidell Louisiana.has a daugter, single parent. Everytime he calls my phone shows Franklin Park, Illinois. Spoke on the phone for a few weeks, then said hes going to the UK for a presentation for a oil project. When he arrived in the UK called me from a UK number.. a few days later tells me hes going to Africa because he got the contract for the project and is going to make a site assesstment he will be there for a 2 weeks then he will come visit me.. sends me a flight confirmation , never shows up, calls me to say his luggage got stolen @ the airport in Nigeria & even cried on the phone that he has no money & cant't access his bank account from there. I sent him some money & after that everyday he needed money for something, food, credit for his phone, airport fees, taxi driver fees, taxes for the project hes working on,fee for hotel.. it was always this time i knew things weren't adding up & always had a answer for every question. i decided to google his name & number and boi, big ole scammer Steve Bright..ive lost alot. & i have reported him .i'm thankful I never did meet him... Karma is amazing & he will get whats coming for him.

I think I've bee contacted by this same guy only he's now using the name Carl Bright. Says he's a marine engineer, widower with one grown son. Says he was Bron in Australia but his parents died when he was 3 years old and he was raised by foster parents in the UK. Says he's currently working in Cuba but has actually lived in the STATES for. The last 3 years in several places including Illinois! Since I was.pretty sure he was setting up to run some.sort.of.scam,.I've been having a bit of fun with him. He thinks I'm well off and oh so lonely! Lol. Can't wait to see what his next moves are,

To make a long story short I too was talking to a guy out of CA on an oil rig exxon mobil. After several months he finally asked for itune to be able to talk to me so it would encript? I kept putting 2 and 2 together and knew something was up but it was worth it to bust this guy. After a whole bunch of nonsense I found he was talking to another woman using the same profile pics but another name. I busted him and he admitted to me he was 23 yr old from Ghana Africa and he was very sorry. I asked about the profiles he was using and he said he had stole them from google. Now I am searching hi and low for these guys to let them know their ID has been stolen. It is near impossible. I wish now I hadn't delete the guy off so I could get more info.

does the name James Bloodworth ring a bell to anyone? he's supposedly an engineer in the Durham, NC area that travels overseas a lot. he says he's originally from Germany but has lived in the US for quite sometime and lost his wife to lung cancer several years ago. just seems a little shady......

Does he have a daughter named Emily? Very handsome blue eyes, goatee, in the Marines. Used to live in Texas. His wife died in an automobile accident?

If i send her photo can u remember?or guys photo?

Cory michael bristol.. jake sgtwallace.. Sgt john burk... Martin grey.. Fred brashear... All fake military guys all tried to scam me..

Hello every one I been scamm too by Arron levein, i did loss a bit of money they works in groups then i had another guy trying to scamm me to for a lot of money,he name is Donald Patrick did not send, since then, one or two pop up on my facebook, i do not except anyone i don't know

People who are desperate finding love or those who want quick money fall into the scammers' track.
They have tried it on me from Europe to Africa, but each time I prove to them I am far above their cunningness. One has to be wise and have the fear of God which leads the right way. Why should one fall in love with someone not seen personally and believe what the person says? I cannot imagine sending money to a ' beggar' , a fraud online. Not even a cent to test the authencity of that demand. Let alone parting with very huge sums of money. No way. Taking risks most of the time Lead to great loses

Absolutely! How can I fall in love with someone not seen personally and believe what the person said.I cannot imagine sending money to a ' beggar' , a fraud online.Not even a cent.Let alone parting with very huge sums of money...... I am definetely agree with these words ....

On Skype one girl called pooja sexy folled me and took 2000 Rupees via paytm. She told that she we do video call but then she took money and blocked me. Please suggest what to do.


I also have had correspondence with "John Wilson", ceo of his own company. Yes, what a scammer. Last sad story I got was he was in Jail in Dubai for having codeine, which is illegal over there. As far as I'm concerned, I hope he rots in there.

So, I guess I can now join this forum. I have been treated the same as all of you... With flowery cards every morning and sweet words of Love, Marriage, sex, etc.... But, now he "NEEDS" me to send money to travel home. First it was a consignment box that had to be paid for first for $3850 which I said no way to and told him it was a scam.. Then it became 10K which I readily said NO to. Now it's he is coming here to deal with his box and he only needs 1700. This is crazy.. He is not posing as mility but as a UN Dr. His name is Carter Oliver Campbell and he is REALLY GOOD ladies so be very wary.. We did not meet on a dating site.. He actually hit me up on Instagram and we only talk on Google Hang Out and he sometimes sends me emails. But, this is all too similar. Watch for letter requests that don't come from gov't agencies but from Gmail or AOL accounts. and poor grammer and English in general. HUGE clue right there. It's hard because they are wonderful and are fairytales. Which should be the biggest clue of all.

I just went thru the same thing romance how he was going to marry me then he wanted money I wouldn't send him any so he dropped me his name was alexander Joachim thompson

I got on one of the sites and met a man that was originally from Sweden, and he was an engineer. he is using the real Wilmer Durbin's identity. he said he was going on a business meeting, first to ; London, then to Cape Town S Africa. some how he ended up in a rural area. 135 miles from Cape Town. since we first talked, quickly was his darling, or his honey. then he texts and asked me to send him a Green Dot card from Walmart, and a friend will add money to the card I get. I did not send a card, and texted him that If he stops communicating, with me I will know he never cared. hum..... I wonder if we are still going on our fist date. We were meeting at a café.

Same exact thing happened here except he said he was a contractor? A widower. And he was from Birmingham Al. Same name. Also from Sweden.Also met on a dating site.POF. just happened today. Ladies beware of WILMER DURBIN!

Anyone was victim of Lewis Woods, Los Angeles, single daddy, Sandra Clinton, the nanny, child named Angela, ask for paying medical bills, Iphone card, please if so, I wanna catch them, they are exploring a minor and they have to be accountable before justice for this. Please report people, I want to know.

Is Sandra Clinton a scammer from London. Professes to have an inheritance from dead mother and needs help to clear the funds held by the govt cause she did not know she had this inheritance and the govt now has it. She professes that she wants to marry person she is asking help from.

Damn it , I think I am the target of two scammers in one week! They are using the same mode writing to me,using amolst the same story:from UK,wife dead,living with a daughter, doing gold bussiness and oil shipping on the sea,looking for a soulmate...... they asked me how can I pay for my tuition fee, pretending they are so much interested in me. They asked my telephone number, I refused to give them. Also, their email is and The added me from facebook. I believe they are from the same scam group. Their names are Michael Hugentobler and David Andersen Larson. I am almost become a victim!!

it says in the article that you can do an image search on a search do you do that?

bd ... I use google chrome so here are directions: put cursor on top of image THEN right click on an image THEN put cursor on the "search google for image" from the list in the box that pops up and click that phrase with cursor ... should bring up similar and maybe the same image. You can also use tineye dot com and put the image there and search. Use both as they bring up different results.

I had to add my 2 cents. Does anyone know of a Mike Larry Lyons, says he is Sgt in US Army, stationed in Syria now in Nigeria. I made it to 4 months before he started asking for money, bank info, etc. Is he for real or another scammer.

Anyone who asks for money on the internet is a scammer. Please read all the accounts of romance scams that you can and you'll see the same patterns as yours. WHY would an Army sgt need money ... and from you (supposedly his "love" ... is it so he can "come home to you") it's all manipulation to get money from YOU to HIM ... why would you give your bank info to a virtual stranger?

I met guy on named Patrick Gerwig. He said he was a widow with no family, wife's family won't talk to him, and said he was an engineer for an oil company. He supposedly went to China to sign a contract and asked me for a $150 iTunes card. I said no and called him a scammer. He apologized and asked to still email and I'm an idiot so I said okay. A few days later he was supposedly flying back but said he missed his flight and needed $350. He wanted me to send it to his nanny, Sandra Picado in New Jersey. He was using a cell phone with a New York prefix, said he just moved to WA state from there. I just blocked his number. Good to know I"m not alone.

I have many messages and emails proving I've been scammed. Can I have me scammer investigated and arrested. He claims to be overseas on business with no money. He gave me a fake us affress or a fake name. Maybe both. Will the America. Embassy check him out or who can I get to go where he is and investigated

Beware of this scammer who is on social media. Sometime ago I was supposedly communicating with a Amelia Esperanza from New Jersey and just felt something was wrong so I cut that communication off. Now, again another photographed woman wrote me with the same email also from Union New Jersey. It was bugging me with that last name so I searched my old email and sure enough, there was the same email address with a photo of a different woman. So beware of this email address since it's a scam to get information.

I met this guy, not even on a dating site, it was a language learnig site. he told me he is a civi; engenier from UK working in South Africa, i aked him for pictures and he sent them right the way, i talked to him on the phoen and he does have a Scotish accent, he said he is divorced his wife cheated on him, never had children, and he asked me about me, i have sent hom pictures of me and my grown kids, he said he woul love to be a part in their lives,, and then bam...he asked for an I tune card, i bought it for him, then his bank account was frosen and he neede money to help pay for the hotel, i sent money through instagram but it didnt go through for some was not to his name but supposedly to one of the worker at the hotel, they told me it was a scam so i blocked her,,,,i told him what happened, he was upset when i told him the thruth ,,,he said is not a scam you have a wild i sent money through western union ,,,ye, i am an idiot,,,i am in love with this guy,,,i dont know if he is scamming me or he reallly needs my help,,,now acording to him the tax company is charching him 17000 so he had to stop his project,,,he waas supposed to come at the and of August,,,he knows i cant help,,,but still he keeps talking to me,,,,so i dont really know if he is for real. have never video chated with him, he said his phoen camera broke....Please help.

Hi sad, Sorry your emotions were manipulated by a scammer but that is clearly what is going on here. When you say your scammer is still keeping in touch with you in the face of him knowing you can no longer help him monetarily, he might try to use you as a money mule (see the above post with the last name of Sandra Picado ... she is being used as a money mule ... which is illegal to receive the money then send it on to the scammer. He might also be biding his time till he asks you to ask for money from a relative (when he supposedly gets mugged and is in hospital) and you'll be so in love with him and so worried about him you'll be desperate and go to great lengths to send more money. Please read stories about how people have lost their entire savings and homes and cars because they couldn't stop. Please get help for yourself before it's too late. This is not a love relationship on the scammers side ... he only wants money ... his words and actions are all about getting more money.

Hi Sad211 this story sounds interesting and I may be talking to the same guy. I have his voice that I taped to bad I can't attach it to her and all can hear it. Did he give you a name?

I feel like I'm being scammed after reading all of these posts and similar stories. Has anyone ever got a FB message, or scammed, by a man named Ritz Calton, AKA Richard Calton, 43 year old from ATL? Love and romance, but always coming up with some reason to need money wired or a credit card opened up to help get money needed ASAP. This last time, he wanted me to send him money for medications because he was deathly ill. But the money needed to be sent to a "Closette Jocirin" in Florida; who would then ship him his meds ASAP. Please help me.

I've met a great guy, very sweet, at Sapio and we started texting. His name is Benton Refunjol and after a while he called me crying saying he had a car accident and he was at a hospital in Turim, Italy. He gave me his doctor's phone and I after getting in contact with the doctor, he said we had to pay the hospital. It would cost 850 euros and after 10.000 euros for a surgery. After that I've called the hospital in Italy and found out it was all fake. It's sad, but it's true. We shall all be careful.

Great job, Rosanna. You should be very proud of yourself.

I don't know how to convince my mom that she is just another victim of a scammer. She met this "Tim Adams Scott" online on E-Harmony, and almost immediately he got off the site and they began talking over the phone and texting. Never video-chat, he says his camera doesn't work, what a coincidence. He says he studied Engineering in Russia, and works with oil rigs. He was supposedly living in Miami, but on the day my Mom flew there, he got into a car accident and never picked her up. She went to "his" house, only to find a family who had no idea who he was. He says he is a widower and has daughter, Clara, who my mom has spoken too as well.
He then said he had a job in Alaska and has been working there for a couple of weeks. She bought a flight from Florida to Alaska to go see him on August 16th. Only for him to have had yet another accident on the 15th, and supposedly had died after their boat capsized. And yet today he is miraculously alive, 2 days later. There is also a "friend" of his called Derek, that my mom has spoken to, and who has been almost an intermediary throughout every "accident", who by the way seems to have an Indian accent. She is planning to buy yet another ticket on the 20th to fly there. Oh and another thing was, "Tim's" job as an engineer at the oil rig is top secret, so he wasn't at a regular hospital, but at a clinic the oil company has, and you need a security clearance to even be able to talk to him or see him. He is saying it was all misunderstanding, that he was alright.
She claims they have not asked her for money, but I'm not entirely sure. She has said that Tim had problems with the IRS, so they wanted his work check to be made out in her name? I'm not sure.
She has seen the comments on this website and refuses to see that this is all a scam. This guy has lied to her consistently, even sent her a fake florida driver's license. He has sent her dozens of pictures, but I've yet to find somebody online who looks like him.
Has anybody had similar experiences in terms of going to meet these scammers and their "accidents"?

Hi Clue

Your mom is in "deep" if she is still believing "Tim" in the face of everything you've described. The love bombing is an emotionally manipulative hook from which it is difficult to extricate oneself. Keep trying to make your mom see the light before she loses all her money. You might tell her that men in general will move mountains to be with someone they love ... that's not what is happening in your mom's situation ... maybe she's forgotten this. Look at other romance scam websites and ask moderators to help you find matching pics of the scammer. I will end with this ... if your mom deposits that work check to her bank and gives the money to "Tim" ... a week or so after the deposit your mom will get a call from the bank stating the check is not good and she'll have to come up with the money she withdrew. That is how that particular scammer angle works. is it that this guy's company is able to write a work check to your mom without her social security number?? The scammer will try his best to come up with some excuse so try to outsmart. If you can just get your mom away from this guy's love bombing for a few weeks, the spell will be broken and she might actually see the situation for what it is.

Hi there! The same daughter's name as my grandma's phone pal now. HIS NAME USED IS MARK ANDERSON, WITH DAUGHTER CLARA AND SON STAN.

A guy tried to get money from me and I had to send it to London-United Kingdom to another person (I have its name and address) He first wrote me with the name of Faxx James and facebook refused him,later he wrote again with the name of Mavis Johnson, both with the same story. Also I think he post a false picture of himself. I wish that facebook stops him to do Scams.

Reading all of these stories is so sad! And scary. I never get on dating sites and don't accept stranger requests on Facebook. BUT, I do play Words with Friends and scammers are there too! I chatted with a couple of guys. Roy Ivan and David Williams. Both oil rig engineers - beware of these! Both widowed with children. Both wanted to move to Google Hangouts to talk. Which I did. They never asked me for money - it didn't last that long - but both were falling in love quickly. I'm not quite that desperate. Deleted and blocked them both. But they will just back up and keep trying. Stay safe out there.

Has anyone been scammed by someone by the name Gonzalez Narvaez? He is residing in Accura, Ghana.. Said he can't leave there because he was detained in airport because they found gold in his luggage, and has been under Surveillance until he can pay all the costs to return to the states with the gold. He said he was working off shore for Shell Oil off the cost of England... I have tried to find this man for over a year, but can't seem to find him anywhere. He is bald, very smooth talker, and a handsome man. Please if anyone has any information, I would like to hear.

I have been conversing for 4 yrs with a man who goes by the name of Gonzalez Narvaez. He was residing in Accra Ghana. Couldn't ask for a sweeter kinder man I thought. He left Ghana January 20, 2020 to supposedly be coming home. He said there would be a layover in Dubai, then flying on home from there. Over the weekend I received a text message from someone calling himself Dr. Anderson telling me that Gonzalez had been in a terrible accident and was brought to his hospital. Told me that he was in a coma and needed to have surgery. He said he couldn't do surgery until someone who was close to him gave the go ahead.. I was unable to contact Gonzalez after he left Ghana because he had to shut off his phone. The next message I received was from this so called Dr. Anderson. I'm certain that too was a scam also.. If anyone knows anything about this situation, please send me a message and let me know. Confused...

Anyone else know a guy who's in Turkey right now, from England. Lost his parents and sister 10 years ago. Divorced, good looking, very sweet and poetic. Asked me for an ITunes card after three and a half weeks, kept saying I was the love of his life and bla bla bla.
Goes by Daniel Tayo. I couldn't find anything online about him. What a bummer!

Matt Walker says he works for Exxon Oil. Has a daughter in CA. Always says he will come see me. Dutch but accent isnt right. Wont Skype or Facetime. Wants me to look for an apt so we can be together. Now wants me to wire him money for the application so it is in his name as he can afford it. Been going on for a year or more. Never arrives at the airport.

Single Mom  I'm sorry that this has been going on for so long, but you have recognized signs that he isn't honest. Do not enter into any financial arrangements with someone you have never met face-to-face. One thing they try to do is to get an honest woman to deposit a fake check into her legitimate bank account and then to send cash back to the guy via MoneyGram or Western Union. By the time your bank realizes the check was fake, the guy and your money are gone and the bank will come after you for the money you withdrew. You can even be charged with a crime. Do not get involved in anything financial with him. Protect yourself and your family.

I met online a guy named andre hernandez. he claims to be a usa military pilot. his wife passed away from breast cancer. he has a son 6-7 years old. I told him about far he has not asked me for money but no parents (both died) so weird. he owns his private helicopter...something is not right here.. he said he lives in florida departing to kabul today

Has anyone ran across Army Sgt Palerma Oxley stationed in Kabul?

David Deluca on He sent me many photos and had a beautiful speaking voice. Claimed to be a commodities broker living in Aurora, CO working on a huge oil deal. Romanced me with beautiful poetry and some Rumi poetry (one of my favorite 12th century spiritual poets). He is amazing at what he does. Romanced me for three weeks, even sent me flight itineraries via tex (but they had no confirmation numbers). They were even actual flights! He finally sai he was at Royal Bank of Scotland and needed money. Please be careful, these scammers are great at their games. NEVER send money. Do not give your heart to someone you have not know for many months and met in person. Watch and wait. If you heart is broken, find a good therapist, books, a good support system. I did not get taken and I am so thankful.

Have been talking to someone on a mental health support chat room for a few months. He never asked me for anything and I was the one who came to him. He never asked me for money. Then someone private messaged me and said "this guy is an alcoholic who visits girls from these chat rooms and stays at their places without paying / uses them for money." I don't know what to think. First of all, I would never allow this man anywhere near my home. I also heard he is about 5 years older than he says. Does this sort of thing happen, too... not 'online' scamming but perhaps starts online and someone just manipulates girls into helping him? I know this person respects me enough never to ask me for money or a place to live. I 'offered' (OK, I'm stupid, lonely) and one day he joked about coming here but ultimately we never really talked about it. We spoke 3 times on the phone and he never calls or texts me.

I still miss him :(


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