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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

Met a guy on tinder - Mark Simon. Says he's security working a contract in Lebanon. Quotes the bible...gave me the name of a church in Beirut that he attends. Way to fast on the falling in love. Asked me for an itunes card. Very handsome. Sent me a few pictures. Said he was in the army for 10 years - got out - and went on contract. Divorced with an 8 year old girl living in California with his sister. I of course - am very suspicious...and am not buying the card. I asked him if $25 was enough...and he said yes. It's for his birthday 8/12. He has a gmail account. Has called "from a secure room". he said he has dual US/Greece citizenship. Anyone come across someone like this?

Hello to all this victims!

The same happened to me , too.
On October 2017, a man Holmes Lamb- Financial consultant and oil business from Texas wrote to me one email. I was so happy to find out a love email in my post.So I started to chat with this person, that pretended to be from Houston. He was the perfect person for me, I have ever met in my life. He has an answer at all my questions and he played so well, cause I fall immediately in love with him. After two months, in January 2018 he asked for money for his flight ticket, pretending to come to visit me in Germany. We shared pictures, addresses and he knew all about me, but I nothing about him.On givens day he said to me to buy him an apple card for 100 Euro, and to send him the code. I have sent him the money and never seen him. In all the time he found one excuse and after all this he asked for more money. Now I am threatened with the missing from my son. All his pictures were fake, profile from Facebook doesn’t exist, his number is not available, and his last words to me:you will end up crying!Now I have lost my money and I should protect me and my son! And this story has no end , but I want to prevent the other women, never sending money to a stranger!

yes ive had a scammer who stoled a drs pictures and Dr Mike) wanted me to send him a 500.00 iTunes GH and my response oh really? your a dr YOU buy me one. he didn't like this I knew he was a scammer. Anytime ANYONE you never met want you to send money or open a checking account. One guy name Paul on twitter was pretending to be from Michigan and he wanted my acct number so his fake general could dep his vacation check into MY account. he sent me photos of him and his daughter which im sure were stolen from someone else profile. he said he was in the middle east and as a diver and that 4 of his men were killed and he was injured and sent me pictures of him in the hospital and asked me to buy him a amazon or iTunes gc so he could talk to his daughter and I told him no I suspected he is a scammer he got mad at me and I reported them both to twitter and blocked them

I’ve been chatting with a woman I met on Facebook Michelle Gregory. It started slow talk of losing her sister and female partner to cancer. We talked on Facebook voice she sounded like an Italian woman ask me to send money for phone time. She supposedly was working for Lockheed Martin in a high security job. I sent her money off my credit card. She said I’ll pay you back she did pay my credit card off. About two weeks later the payments were denied by the card she used. I’m out about $1500. Then she vanished. Now she’s contacting me saying she’s trapped in turkey lost her passport and needs a plane ticket. Well I’m playing along contacting authorities These people don’t care about us they want to pad their pockets with our money.

Has anyone been scammed by a man named Douglas (no last name) on Coffee Meets Bagel? Claims he’s an Army General in Afghanistan, lost his wife and 2 daughters 7 years ago, and has a son in boarding school. He’s just now asking to go off the app to chat on google hangouts. No request for money yet but I’m sure that would be the next step. I was just curious if anyone else came across his profile.

I am mostly reading about guys scamming women.
I get contacted at least once a day by fakers. I keep them busy for days until they finally ask for an iTunes gift card.
That's when I block them.

1. Use Tin Eye to reverse lookup pictures. I find they use models, porn stars, Instagram models, etc..
Not all of the time though....they are getting wise.

2. English...lol.
They say like..."I am Jessica by name"...Who talks like that?
Most are bad at English and grammar. Some are quite good though...look out.

3. Ask about their favorite football team. I usually get names of soccer teams...lol. (European rules football).

4. Important! Get them to do a videoconference with you. I get a lot of excuses like my phone is bad that way. I need a new phone, can you help me? Then I can video chat.

5. Never send money, buy gift cards, set up new bank accounts, etc.
Two scammers wanted my to write their name and happy birthday with something else. I don't remember what...They we're pissed by the 4th time I did it wrong...lol.

I am on Instagram with this user name if I can help or network.
I wish I could work for the feds or a website that busts these scammers. If anything I am getting good at wasting their time. Time they would use scamming someone else.

Let me know...

I believe my sister is being scammed by Bob Johnson (BJ) says he’s a retired airline pilot, lives in New York. Currently in France purchasing an airplane he’s going to fix. He’s been widowed for 2 years, has a son in a coma in California and a daughter there too. Anyone else familiar with this story?

Has anyone heard of a Davis Carter? Working as a Marine Engineer in Turkey.. but from San Fran.. also has a house in Sunderland. 1 daughter named kim.. whose in a boarding school.. and her mother died in a car crash too?

Be careful. Within 14 days, over 30 men contacted me on facekook. Everybody wanted to be friends.
I accepted 10 contacts, everything was the same! I knew from the beginning that it was a scam, and it just went off in a few days. Male, 1-2 children, single parent, parents died, he is from US, UK or France. Currently, in Afghanistan, Yemen, Africa. Oil Company, US Army, Naval Engineer, Journalist. No one can send a selfie. The questions about children answers just name and age. I reviewed the photos of their profile over myye, all of them already registered scammers. I'm sorry for the real people who are in those pictures. But the world is big, so the scammers know. They always start by looking for a friend from my youth and finding my profile to have a nice smile. They immediately wonder whether I am married, where I live, whether I have a family. Philip Scott, David Dupont, Ryan Chaun, Peterson Chris William, James David Mario, Gerome Monier, David T Tuttle, David Nathaniel, Jean Michel Grenier, Charlie Malcolm, Jusco Frazier Asare, William Smart, Ryan Fuller and Thompson Garrett. I said no. I blocked everything.

Has any one came across a guy claiming to be Casper Walker, currently in Germany?

has anyone heard of jared derson

Sarah Jenkinson on Instagram falls in love with you so you can send her gift cards. What beautiful female now a days has only 6 pics on her page?? Try to confront her "she" never answers back. Beware.

Has anyone been gotten by this girl from Nigeria goes by the name amber and is looking for money to get paperwork and plane ticket outta their was believing her at first I would like to know if she is trying to pull this scam on anyone else???

Has anyone ever hear of Jason Konilikas? Pretty sure my friend is being scammed.

I was introduced to a man on fb messenger about a month ago looked really handsome we chat and chat everyday his name was Neal Baxter a US military form the Army deployed in Afghanistan all he told was his mother was sick and he was sick. Where he was deployed caught the mellaría I felt so bad for him we got to know each other started sending him pictures of me and my grandkids he also send pictures of him and his mother and ex wife saying he was divorced cuz his ex wife was a drug addict well then he started asking me to send him money through Red Cross or buy iTunes I spend some money on this man well a month went by I started to think this was not right I’ve deleted him and blocked when I did all that then I got a text on fb from so call John Weber his bff stating that how much he misses me and loves me so much I’m like oh no I was just trying to help him out well a few weeks later I got anoth text on fb looked up Request ppl onessenger therebhe was again Neal Baxter with a threat that he was going to send all these pictures of me half nude he did a good job on those with my face on them I’ve never posed nude for no one not my body that he was going to send them all to my family and friends demanding Money ASAP or else o got on fb and blocked him reall fast but I was so stupid not to see it good I got myself in so much trouble he had the names of all my family and friends he will forward those to them I was really upset and scared I was so depressed I cried for days and days why do I get myself into this trouble I do hope he gets caught and never does this to no one else

Anyone have experience with an Alex or Alan Connor? He appears to good to be true but has lots of pics abs all the right answers.

However he claims to be from San Diego Diego. Leaving for Malaysia for an engineering contract. Im waiting for the "lost my wallet" or "sick child" text.

Thomas Wareen. Anyone hear of him?

Yes! Stay away from him. He is smooth. Not the widower story. Divorced, wife has the kids. Photographer.

But he's really a nigerian scammer. Took me for more than i care to admit.
Had all the right answers.

I contacted other women on his profile. He has been telling several that he loves them. What a fool I am.
I tried to tell one that he wasn't who he said. She says he truly loves her. I told her he was taken money and account information from others, including me.

He doesn't know I am onto him. I contacted the authorities.

He got me too. Wanted to marry me. Said he was having money trouble. Didn't have the widow story so i believed him. After I had no more money to give, he disappeared.

Hello Bridget, Sure I did receive a mail from FTC on 04 january 2018. I have the number 915xxx.. But nothing is moving on. I'm desperate.

Hey guys im now talking on wechat with a girl who claims to be a medical doctor at an army base in afganisthan. Lost her parents when she was 12. She says she wants to visit me in Malaysia. Needs to apply leave and the commander for the camp is asking for $550 to find a replacement for her. Lucky thing I am educated enough not to be fooled. So i am just fooling her around. This world is a dangerous place.

Ok so I have not been on any dating sites. Just Instagram. I am married and have told the guys who contact me that I am married. One in particular has told me he is in love with me and wants me to leave my husband to be with him. I have told him no and stopped talking to him. He always comes back. He asked for money two times and I told him no. He got upset but still wanted to talk to me.
My question is what could anyone possibly get from me leaving my husband? Why would they keep asking me to leave and be with them?

I met this guy from FB, he friend requested me. I accepted to just chat with someone new and about basic stuff. We’ve been talking for 3 months. We had gone back and forth about him being a “scammer”. All of our fights have been about money. He says he works on an oil rig ( I forget where). He said he is from New Zealand, has a 14 yo son named “Jeffery” who is wait for it....in a boarding school in the UK. He sent me “pictures” of supposedly
who he is. The pictures he has sent all look mostly the same and there is even a picture of his “son”. I have called him out on so many things. His “son” has an account on Hangouts, I think and feel very strongly (and it’s hard to see what’s in front of you)especially when you have put so much time into him and the relationship you think you have. The reason I am writing this is because he is supposed to come to the US in 2.5 weeks.
I wrote down the things that you ladies have heard them say to you.
He says he is going to buy a house for him, me and his son to live
in. I live in the state of Massachusetts where there is this beautiful place to visit and live called Cape Cod. He is wanting to buy a house on the beach. You and I both know how much those go for. I have looked at the ones where he wanted 5br and 3 baths. If there
is only the 3 of us why the need for such an expensive and big house which are in the 3,000,000- 6,000.000 range. He said I could pick out ANY house I want.
It hit me but am in denial and hoping he is not a scammer but it’s not looking too good. 1 month ago, he needed money for his “son”
something to do with paying for exams. I don’t know about any of you but when did anyone have to “pay” for exams, I never did. The guy told me the UK and the boarding school his son was going to
they do things different there. So in a nutshell regarding that I am disabled which he knows. So I am on a fixed income, he talked me into giving my WHOLE pay to this guy in Ghana. I Money Grammys it 1,150.00 I had no money to pay bills. Because of that my husband left me and I couldn’t pay rent and any bills. He said he was going to pay off my 2 credit cards, but instead the payments did not go through (there’s a shocker). I had worked so hard to keep those 2 cards up to current standing, because the payments were never replaced with another payment to cover it they put my
account as suspended then delinquent and finally the company closed both accounts all because of him. I never got the 1,150.00
back. What was I thinking that I ever would. He also said he is buying me any “high end” car that I want. I have been told all the names that all of you have been called. He wants to treat me like the queen that I am, honey (overkill on that)in the beginning. Baby, princess, I love and miss you so much, that I am everything to him,
his life and he can’t live without me in it. Most of the time he seems
so genuine I know that’s where the conning, sweet talking and saying what he thinks I want to hear! When I ask him to take a selfie he will have an excuse about his phone and any questions most of the time I ask he will dance around them so I push the question until I get an answer I am satisfied with. It’s ironic how he says “I promise” kind of a lot but last night I boldly said to him to not make promises he’s not sure he can keep!!! If I don’t do something
mostly pertaining to money he gets sooo PO. But he has put extreme pressure on me to get money even if I have to ask ppl I would never normally ask. He makes me feel so guilty and throws out the “ You don’t care, you don’t love me and don’t care about Jeffery. I really want to ride this out until July 28th. That’s when his supposed “contract” on the rig is up. I don’t back down to him and refuse to. So with all that I have read in here You know the saying, If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck...
Btw, this man I have fallen in love with goes by the name Steven Douglas. Please get in touch with me if you have been scammed
by him... Thanks

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.

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