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Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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Image of cupid and heartNot everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, romance scammers are now involving their victims in online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: The scammers set up dating profiles to meet potential victims. After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Victims think they’re just helping out their soulmate, never realizing they’re aiding and abetting a crime.  

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account

Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine? If you do an image search and the person’s photo appears under several different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. And if the person’s online profile disappears a few days after they meet you, that’s another tip-off.

Here’s the real deal: Don’t send money to someone you met online — for any reason. If your online sweetheart asks for money, you can expect it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Romance Scams

Comments

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 Yahoo.com and Yahoo.co.uk. 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 engine.how 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 Match.com 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 reason...it 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 imagination....so 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. Also...how 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 scammers..so far he has not asked me for money but no wife..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 Spiritualsingles.com. 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 :(

Not sure, are you getting over the liar yet? Remember, it is NOT the person you were presented with, it is a gang of thieves. And you get heartbroken because they are insidious. I truly hope you stay strong, and cut off and stay away from them. Please listen to your brain, not your misled heart. Finally, pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for guidance, and keep reading these, and all will become clear. Best to you 2018, you won't be lonely any more.

anyone know of a man harris martin?

Does he say he's from Jacksonville, FL? If so, google his name as he's listed on other scammer sites. Please don't send money or goods to the scammers. Block and delete is your best defense.

Does anyone know of a Raymond Becton who works on an oil rig in Gulf of Mexico . He supposedly lives in Jacksonville Florida and has a five year old son. He was also stating his ex wife cheated on him with his best friend.

am currently dealing with a man i met on tagged,he is no longer on tagged.his name is George stockstill he says he is currently working at Libya as an us army.we just sharing pictures says he will come and meet me once they are done in april,,could this be a scam

hi i just read your comment here..
same situation i met also George Stockstill from tagged and he said he is a US army and have mission in Libya now..

Beware of Michael Andrew Wilson aka Michael Dermott. He uses the photos of a real military serviceman and has been spotted on yahoo, tindr, kik. He contacted me through Hinge using the same photos. Be wary, be safe.

I have been chatting with Michael Dermott for 3 months. He has a way to make you fall in love. He asked for money for his cell so he could still talk to me. Then he decided to come home to me and retire and we would raise his son Ben together. I sent a total of 2000$. Maxed my cc’s and some savings. The hard part is I’m going through a divorce and he fed right into my head & heart. Now I’m devastated!!!

Has anyone heard of a Bolton Carter Arroyo, claims he is in the Marines first in Syria and now in Iraq. Always needs money, started out on Instagram, now only on hangouts, according to him. Please any information, he is no where on sites, except for twitter a long time ago. lol

I have been scammed also by this man called James Freeman, he ripped of my money but all thanks to ICP who helped me with investigation and recovery of my lost funds and with compensation from the scammer he is currently rotting in jail now, you can report to the ICP and if you were scammed too

Hi Shirley, Can you provide the full ICP site address?
I was scammed hugely, please help. Thanks.

what is ICP? can't find the website. .... WOuld you please type it out? thanks.

does he use the name Alexander Freeman

i only been 1 months in 2site dating -Tender & mingle2. I soon rec Hi msg for 3different guy and this are their story

1-offhore guy Sean Lianng - sent parcel that i need to pay 4500. Just text back :I wont pay anything n u can take back the parcel to their owner.

2-marine guy Dave Nichols asking for leave. i checked no such thing as on behalf for military asking for leave n need pay USD200 using Western Union. i didnt pay n he was upset saying didnt love him as he does

3-Charles William from England saying he just arrive at airport but need deposit 2000 for active his card credit. Again i didnt pay n he mad for made him stuck at airport. Well i did ask send me his pic at airport. he cant provided me the pic

I'm receiving the romance scam form "women" contacting me through Facebook Messenger. Their message is HI. I then accept them and some time in the first 24 hours they tell you that they are in love. Three to five days later they ask for $50 ITunes cards as gifts. The first woman I met asked for a $50 card but I could only afford to buy a $25 card. I purchased it through Walmart online. I bought the digital card and gifted it to the woman. She received the information only the activation number would only work for her phone. She was furious and demanded that I go to Walmart and buy the card itself then take a photo of the access code number and send the photo to her profile. What she got was me Blocking her access to me and got rid of her. I've had 4 meetings just like the first. Everything is the same situation except for one who begged for a $250 ITunes card. I'm getting rid of the fifth scammer now. I've been dragging "her" along for a month now. I promised her $100 ITunes card when she asked. Scamming the scammer. This last one also asked the name of my bank. I did a search for names of banks located in my area then chose a name at random. Then I sent her an email explain that I chose the name of the bank name by chosing a name from a list because I didn't know her well enough to share that information. That's my story.

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