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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


I just met a guy name Robert Day on Instagram last week. I did a Google image search and nothing came up. I brought him a 25.00 iTunes card and now he's asking for help because his wallet has been stolen. He said he's deployed in Niagara. I really want to believe him but I'm not sure

I believe this website can help. To maker it better, more information must be collect, the same way law enforcement would collect. Gather pictures from these thug. Any type of physical description, tattoos, scares, hair style color. This information needs to be share with the public, for better awareness.

Is there a public data base where we can go to try and ID anyone that we suspect is trying to scam us ? I have been scammed out of about $18,000.00 dollars so far.

Nigerian Dating Scam - Andrea Neil Tonelli - same profile picture on Facebook under Fabrizio Tonelli
by Lizzy (New York, USA)I received a friend request from Andrea Neil Tonelli the day after I joined a closed Facebook group called Pitlove. When I accepted his friend request he contacted me through Instant Messenger.

He claimed to be Chief Pilot/Chief Instructor at Copa Airlines and to live in Los Angeles, California. First time we chatted he claimed to have been raised in an orphanage in Los Angeles and to have no family or siblings around him. Also claimed to have lost two sons, a daughter and his wife in a grocery store shooting, and had one son left, Henry, and to have a strong religious belief.

That day he also gave me two telephone numbers for him and forwarded pictures of him and his son. That same day we switched to text messaging and phone calls. Within a week he started calling me by pet names and professing an undying love and requesting promises that I would never leave him, would never hurt him, and would be with him forever.

Shortly thereafter I received a couple of nude photographs. He then claimed that he flew to South Africa where the airplane he was flying experienced mechanical difficulties. As he was an "independent contractor" with Copa Airlines it was his responsibility to pay for the repairs.

That's when the requests for money started. He claimed he only took $1,000 with him and used most of that money to buy an i-Phone and get a new cell service because the one he had wouldn't work there, and to pay his motel bill. We started talking on Whatsapp then.

He asked me to send money for the repairs ($5,150). When I said I couldn't do that, he said "we" could pay it a little at a time. He also requested money for food and his motel bill. He wanted money sent by Western Union or another carrier to be picked up in Nigeria by Emmanuel Gidah since Andrea didn't have a government issued ID and wouldn't be able to get the cash himself.

When I questioned whether he was a scammer he became angry and asked what I thought he would get out of scamming me. When I began talking to him again he claimed to have attempted suicide when I accused him of being a scammer and stopped talking to him. He asked me to marry him and promised to make it legal when he got "home".

He told me that if I stopped talking to him again he would commit suicide and his blood would be on my hands. A little over a month after we started talking, I stopped responding to him and blocked his numbers. His page is still up on Facebook and I discovered another page under the same name with different pictures of the same man, and the same profile picture is being used under Fabrizio Tonelli on Facebook.

Andrea also has or had a listing with Badoo dating site.

John Mike age about 51, UK Finnish speaking, cannot speak logical American English. Attractive pictures but don't know if that's him. Says his two year oil rig contract in London, with Elite Development is over & wanting to relocate to US. He is on Instagram (Lord knows what other sites) moves you quickly to Hangouts on Gmail Prefers WhatsApp. Widowed with 16 yr. old son, he says his mother raises in Denmark with an Aunt who is very sick. This is an intelligent man who reels you in with dear, honeys, sweeties, My World, My everything & professes his need to share his life with a woman who he will just about worship if she worships him. He is charming, intelligent in mail, since that's the only contact you will get unless you speak Finnish. Writes beautiful emails professing his never-ending love for you after two weeks of messages and mails. Oil Rig in the North Sea and sends fake documents to prove it. He says he wants desperately to meet and must fly from London and needs you to show him your love and seriousness to him by sending YOUR PART of the first meeting. He asked me for $3200. First he wanted to send personal belongings ahead to your address that you MUST NOT GIVE OUT. When I refused to send him the $3200, he got angry and called me selfish and not interested in a forever relationship with him. He calls you nasty, horrible names and has gone from endearing, my world to: give me the money through money gram, or my personal travel agent through Wells Fargo in California (he gives acct # or he will move onto another woman who is devoted to him. GMAB. Two weeks of endearments and plans for the future to bashing you unless you send money for hotel accomodations for two weeks. I found it strange that he went from loving me forever to calling me an "old selfish woman in a few weeks time. Emotional abuse and NO RESPECT when you do not do as he asked about the money sharing. No woman should Ever have to pay a man to meet her or be with her no matter where either one of them live. If a man is sincere, he will fly anywhere to meet a woman, no matter where they both live. I did fall hard for this man because at first he told me only what I needed to hear. He wanted to be one big happy family with mine. Women, listen up, if you want to pay a man to be with you then this is the man for you. Remember his name, he's out there: John Mike, Oil Rig, North Sea, London, born in Norway, raised in Denmark and speaks Finnish and maybe other European languages. He is not for real except wanting your money and emotional guilt he will bring you down IF you don't send him. Don't be a fool like me but I stood my ground and didn't send him money. Others will because he's THAT convincing with the heart strings. I even miss him now after all that. He told me what I wanted to hear and then broke my heart.

Has anyone been caught up with a bloke called Joshua young. He is apparently in his 40s in army based in New York not sure on rank etc as haven’t talked about that much. Apparently he is set to retire in may. He has given me a brief background of himself that he has a 8 year old son, recently divorced from his wife and she doesn’t see the son, so far he’s saying all the right things but I’m just dubious. Iv seen some of his pics on other Instagram accounts and when I questioned him about it, straight away he said yes he is aware that there are scammers out there using his pictures and life to creat accounts ???? He might be genuine but just hard to suss out !!!! Any help grateful

Hi. I have been talking to this guy for almost a year now and he claims to be in the army and wants to retire from the Army. I have been giving him money but he sounds so sincere. How do you know if they are scamming you or they are really sincere. The guy I am talking to is Andrew Thomas and has a son but says he is in college.

has anyone else talked with a Andrew Thomas. He is a sweet talker and makes you believe everything he out

I just had 1 scammer confirmed and caught act telling 2 different stories to the same person on a different profile. He doesnt know yet that i know he is trying to scam me by hus looks and sweet notes (obviously all copied from the net) but this giy really played well, he speaks very well and you wont notice at all if you are not aware their style of Romance scam. Makes you fall for them, and goes travelling mainly theyll say from Australia then travelling to Malaysia, then theyll ask help to pay hotel bills abs food, etc. at first they make up stories look like they have noone in the family all dead no brother no sister no parents and no wife and left with a young child. blah blah blah..

PLS BEWARE OF THIS GUY USING A PROFILE NAME MARK A in tagged, 43 yrs old, 2 years widowed 1 son, from Australia ans have house in Houston Texas (ALSO KNOWN AS MARK AUSTIN) IG markaustin3232 and multiple profile in FB using these photos to send you as you go along chatting and will send them one at a time as you chat depends and on the situation so he will look genuine. His Linkedin Account also on his full name Mark Austin Director of Civil Engineering, works at KBR Global Engineering, if you are not smart you will not noticed until he ask for money. Not sure if the photo he is using are his as he will makes excuses when u ask to talk on cam or send new photos, he is busy man and no time for social media and dont like pictures as an excuse. But like many scammers they travel to Malaysia and from there they will ask for help of money.

Warning -- Mark Austin is now a doctor, from Houston (spelled it Huston), stationed in Iraq. He's still widowed, with a daughter now. He's active on LinkedIn. I told him I knew he was a scammer and he suddenly got very quiet.

Does anyone know Alfred Ollson Davies ?

Hello does someone know Levi F whaley Hes a US military whos deployed in Afghanistan kaboul i met him through facebook i realy would like to know if hes a scammer

I had this gal saying she loves me then I told her I was 65 but she said age did not matter, then after 9 days she drop the bomb her bank account was froze and nedded money I said I do not loan money then block her.

Yes I had a man named Franklin Lucas to contact me on Facebook had a really deep accent sand his father was from Kentucky and his mother was from Malaysia what was so funny is that he had a deep accent could not speak English good but he was raised in the United States haha so he start telling me how much he loves me he never got to the money part I did I start talking to him about I needed a car I turned it around he said that he had a contract with Malaysia to build a hotel there they were paying him six million but he would only get $500,000 out of it and he would buy me a car when he got back yeah right I don't think I'll be hearing from him again though not with me asking for things first so much for the scammer he got scammed on

Johnson barnett. Scammer us army.

Has anyone talked to a Heath Jeffrey Sutton?

Okay.. I started out as one to regret.. - I guess but I Finished Smart - I Hope... I met this person on Facebook and I Never Ever accept Friend Request..The only reason I did was because around Christmas I had sent Christmas Wishes to the Troops and I was thinking this was just One of them Looking for a Friend to talk to... However if I was in my Right
Mind I might have caught onto this person from the Beginning.. I'm taking care of my Mother who's Health isn't Good at the moment.. Anyway, This SCAMMERS Name that he started using on Facebook was David Robinson but like all the others suggested going to Hangouts, something I wasn't familiar with. We started getting to know each other right away and he's telling me that he's a widower with a Son and that he's over in Syria on a Contract with the UN.. Yes he right away started His Charm and how happy he was to find someone again.. I basically told him that I was Happily Divorced for 18 Years and wasn't looking for something like that right away that I had strong Christian Values Now and I think that's what he Took advantage of because over the weeks he mentioned that he's been talking to his son about Finding a GOD Fearing Woman!! Well a few weeks later He GOT Me Told me His son was in an accident and he had no way of helping him because His son had his credit card So that is when he asked if I could go buy a ITunes card for a $100 maybe to help out with some of the expense..I Did. This was January.. Our conversation continue on for weeks and in February same thing asked again if I could help because his son's bills were needing to be paid - this time $200. Unfortunately I did it again.. Guess my Christian Heart was getting In the way..I did start to get suspicious when he kept suggesting that I'd go and get a loan And There WAS No Way I would do that... Like I said He definitely was so charming and unfortunately I sent a couple of pictures to him and he sent about 3 of himself -- So I thought because around Valentine's Day I happened to see the story about Online Romance Scams and it mentioned how to check the pictures.. So this is what I did and YES -- He IS FAKE!!!
I'm Really Angry both at myself because I should have caught this at the beginning and Him for Falsely Using Some Decent Military Persons Picture.. Yes I. I'm out of $300 But I'm Thankful that it's not more.. I did confront him about his fake name and he just kept coming up with more answers to try and cover up his lies.. The main thing that I noticed and it should have been right from the beginning was his military uniform had a different name on it and He tried to tell me that was his middle name,even though a month prior to calling him out on this he told me a different middle name.. Kinda wish I saved all the Lying Text messages and pictures but I Deleted everything Plus Hangouts Just Want this Bad Memory to go away..
Definitely Will Have to Pray For All of This...

Thankfully it was only 300 dollars .I lost close on £15000 . Hope your prayers helped you

Same thing happen to me. If I send his message to you. Can you still remember him? Please let me know..

Another scammer going by name Eddy Bartlett says he's an engineer working in France has 2 kids in Tampa. Asked me for 200 bucks, didn't send it. Smooth talker.

This guy call himself Michael Pena says he is from UK and is a civil engineer with a 14year old son.He says he will send me phone, money, blabla asks me to send money for clearance I told him he is a scammer and he is being traced he switched off his phone and blocked me from facebook hehehe

met a guy from austin texas sent him money last week now he says he needs another 5.300 hunred dollars and he loves me wants to marry me as soon as he gets back to the states hes in ireland name is david johnson any one else been scamed by him met him on pof

My daughter thought she met this extremely handsome Military Police who was stationed in the Ukraine. Got rid of his Meet as soon as they met. Asked for her #. Next thing you know he is stuck in the Ukraine with gold and they won't let him leave unless he pays 3,000 dollars!!! You guessed it- She sent them 800.00. We found out that day, they are Nigerians!! Blocked them, called the police. We found the real guy. He is deployed and is in the Marines. They found a way to text her, telling her, he is in Merica ! My youngest blocked him!!! I believe in my heart they wanted to meet with her- kidnap her and sell her for a sex slave!!!

Oh this scammer guy goes by the name of James Watkins stationed out of the Ukraine!

I've had a for sure insisted on me going to Kik messenger then asked for an I tune card John sorry military claims he got hacked on Instagram an fb,Melody Selense I video chat him often on the fence but he was supposed to come here but didn't have enough money an wanted me to send the rest sent copies from the airport cuz he has to have money for emergencies? The other started out acting military Marvins Ray Hensley but he's actually a guy from Nigeria his fb name is SureGuy anyone know them?

I was on and got off and received an email from someone stating he was a friend of someone who he was showing How to use the service. In saw my picture and said that he wanted to talk to me because I thought I was beautiful. Gave me his friend's email And I emailed his friend and we have been talking for a month and half and he says he loves me. A widower 2 daughters engineer lives in California. Has sent me alot of pictures of himself. Just left for his last field work. He was offered 2 jobs and he picked South Africa as it was the shortest time frame. On his way to the hotel his cab was hit from behind he got out of cab and when he went back to text me said his hand carries where stolen the was rob at gun point of his wallet and Rolex. He asked me to call him and then he asked me if i could get him a phone and lab top. I told him I didnt have that kind of money. Again he asked for my help he would pay me back. Thats when reflags went up. He talked of our life together and this was a 6 million dollar project. How stupid am I to still want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyone have a willian muller who lived in france til 23 and went to Berkeley university CA. Help he talks of God and how hes not sden anyone since his wife died


I also have been recently talking to a guy, who calls himself Mark Anderson. Stationed In Syria for UN. Home Tampa FL. Lost his wife 5 yrs ago and has a 12 yr old son in boarding school... He is in US Army he says. Fancy pic in uniform..Have 3 pic. of him. On Instagram. He has not asked for $ yet....

Also a guy goes by dr. Eric Gibson. He works for the UN for the peacekeeping mission. He is an orthopedic surgeon. He is stationed in Sudan. His son is in boarding school and of course his wife has died of cancer. In order to see me I had to sponsor LOL and send him money because of course his funds were tied up for some unknown reason. It's unreal

I have a friend who was "married by proxy" to someone calling himself Eric Gibson. She is getting Bit Coins for him which are untraceable monies. She has never met this man.

Is he from Africa? Lagos Nigeria?

Rexred133 is a scammer. Name is Maro. Beware.
Starts on Instagram with fake Doctor profile.

Has anyone heard of Anthony Brice and Joe Blackburn?

A guy from Tagged under the name of Mark A, 43 yrs old widowed located in Sydney Australia, a civil engineer worked at an Engineering Global company, now self employed, if you googled his name his full profile at Linkedin too, very well played and looks real,handsome, lovely smile his grammar very good as well. but never will not talks on cam if you ask new photo he may send you whaterver he have but later will not as ran out if new ones.

Beware of this guy!!! He will soo ask for money like many other scammers.

Talked to a guy all of January on Facebook and then by phone and texts. Went by the name of Sergio Carlos. Another one using the familiar, I'm an Engineer. Claims to be in California. They use a non-voip phone which allows them to have a United States area code but can be in another country. Anyone ever talk to him? Says his wife and son died in a car accident and has an 18 year old daughter in college in Dubai. At the end he asked me to buy him an Itunes card, to which I replied No. Tried a few more times then lost interest when he realized he wasnt getting anything from me. I have his phone number if anyone wants to compare.

Is that guys number 510-603-4571

I have a guy that claims to be from New York but working in Africa building a hotel. He never wants to speak on the phone but he does text me daily. He says he doesn’t have a Facebook account. Now he’s telling me that he needs 300$ or he will get kicked out of his hotel. His texting is broken English and I really don’t believe that he is a us citizen. His name is Samuel Donald supposedly.

I was chatting to a man on Instagram called Alex Walter. He said his wife died 4 years ago and he has a 7 year old daughter who was being looked after by a nanny in New York. He works away on a rig as a marine engineer for weeks at a time. Now his daughter is ill, he has a lot of money from a deal and wants to send it to me so I can look after it and send some to his daughter. He changed when I said I wanted no part of it and says he is disgusted anyone would think there was something wrong in him wanting to send the money but in my opinion it is far from normal! Scammer do you think?

Yes, definitely a scammer. I had the same experience. Beware of a guy who uses the profile "SmithShaw78" on Instagram

Something similar to your story. Still involved. Engineer works on a rig in Croatia. His son is 6yrs and has sent many pictures of him and son. Never heard his voice. Has asked for STEAM CARDS. Lives in California and a nanny is watching his son. Calls himself God fearing man. Name is Michael Neumann. Let me know

I’m also suspecting of my potential love interest too..I’m from South America he is from nj. He imed me thru Instagram.He says he works independently by selling medical devices to hospitals in Nigeria. His Instagram page is vague and dull with 9 posted pictures. He sent me pictures I did the google image search and nothing comes up. What tipped me off when he asked me if I can help me with some money because his me was short of money back in Nigeria to take the medical stuff out of the port. I told him I don’t have money..NOw he is asking me this : oh... it won't take up to five minutes of her time, i have a colleague that wants to send a check to me and i can't pick it up here. it can only be picked  up in the states.... she can have something from the money too to compensate her time. I really don’t know what to think...I did the image search and nothing I don’t know he is real or a Nigerian behind this person.

Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money. They meet people online, create a relationship, and ask their new sweetheart to use an existing bank account, or open a new account. Then the scammer asks the person to receive and transfer money.

If you do this for a scammer, your name is on the bank account and on the money transfer forms. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

Hi I have been talking with a guy name Jeffrey felix Domenech, from sun city California, 4 days after we meet in Tinder he told her have to go to africa to work and 3days ago he asked me to send him $800 dollars throuh wester union to Nigeria

Lady contacted me on Messenger then asked to move to Hangouts. Posted pictures of an attractive model so I was immediately suspicious. Didn't take long to ask for the iTunes gift card. Asked her why she was using the model's pictures and she didn't miss a beat. Said it was really her she just used a different name so creeps wouldn't bother her. Sure......

This guy i met in tagged under the name of Mark A (Mark Austin). Based in Australia, Half Australian and French , 2 years widowed 1 son, Civil Engineer ,self emplyoed, travels to Malaysia for business contract. few days inlove, after 1 week of travel in Malaysia his card not working or account on hold being hacked and need help to pay his hotel and food bills.
He speaks and writes very well ,but most of the notes copied from internet and songs, if not aware you will think and will fall on his feet. Very busy man cannot send pictures or talk on cam. If you ask new photo he will send the same old ones that he has, and will tell those are taken at that time, he will also share photo of his house that he owned, his children his mum and dad. Sister died wad raped, sometimes died in breast cancer, the wife sometimes died by breast cancer sometime on blood cancer. sometimes he was divorced too, cheated by his wife, blah blah blah.
Be carefull of this so handsome photo being used to scam. linkedin: Mark Austin (Director of Civil Engineering); IG: markaustin3233, Tagged: Mark A; whatsapp:+61488897174

Anyone spoken to a Michael wood in Syria in army little confused messages getting son sick in ghana cant get money for his treatment beed money sent doctor usa mail address ?

Been talking to him for about a week. Have seen him in a lab coat, bathing suit, with a towel wrapped around him in a steam room. Born in Australia, German father and US mom. Has 15 year old daughter in boarding school. Ex-wife cheated on him. Father died when he was ten. Watch out. If you have photos please contact me.

Was he late 30's? Dark hair, nice body?

Hey I have photos and need to check on this guy for a friend who is giving a very similar story. Please contact me back and I will send pics.

What’s the guys number as I’m sure he’s scammed my mother in law


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